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

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.

humptydumpty
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.

 


 

Quickly, now …

Quickly, now …

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY NINETY-FOUR

2017 January 23 [Monday]

Mundane Monday

Since I also have a shit-ton of fiction writing due before today becomes tomorrow, I will make this Mundane Memoir quite short. There’s one exciting announcement, one new writing goal, an update about the weather, and there is a, uh, happening?, that I would like to touch upon for the sake of posterity. Shall I simply trot through the week in order? Okay, here we go.

Monday was, by far, one of the more exciting days of the past week or month even. When I was fifteen years old, I set a goal to travel to each continent [excluding Antarctica b/c one does not simply travel to Antarctica, but I do wish to be qualified to do a six-month stint there sometime in the future] by the time my twenty-fifth year of life came to a close. Proudly, I can state that I did indeed travel to every continent except one [sad face emoji]. Nevertheless, my goal has always pricked the back of my mind, and I’m excited to announce that I will finally check off that last continent this summer! For our [the lifemate’s and my] 2017 ETMC Travels, we will be traveling to … a dun dun duh da! … Sydney, Australia! Yay! I’m so excited, I can’t even think about it yet. So, diligent, focused writing and meticulous planning is the name of the game until we set off on our 2017 vacation in May!

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*caption below

 

As for the new writing goal, my English student, SJ, requested [about three months ago] that I write a story using her as the main character. I sort of brushed it off as her request being mere excitement around my first novel that was published last October. But then, she kept on asking me about her story. I knew I needed a good idea before I could even hope to write, what would essentially need to be, a children’s story, so I just told her I would think about it. When the idea came to me, however, I kept it a secret so that I could present the story to her after she had hopefully forgotten all about it.

I’m so happy and excited with the result of this request that I’ve decided to draw up a few pictures and publish the damn thing as a children’s book. Woot woot! I’ve also decided that I will write a few more children’s stories. So, there’s that.

When considering the weather, it snowed an epic [for Seoul] amount last Wednesday, and then it kept on snowing off and on through Saturday. It’s been amazing! For a girl like me who grew up in the mountains of Colorado, I’ll just say I probably throw a tantrum every other day about how I can’t snowboard anywhere in this ephing country [I mean, you can, but I’m way too much of a snob to pay for a bunny hill].

snowybootsupload01-17
**caption below

 

And then, Saturday brought about the most delightful snow storm that the lifemate and I decided would make for an excellent run! Thus, we ran our asses off until we were both covered in, surprisingly fluffy, snow! It was the perfect mood-lifting activity. I spent all of Sunday writing fiction so that I could reach my word count quota. This metric week’s quota is 6000 words, and I have about 1600 to go. So, I better finish up this, basically, nonsensical writing and get to it. Laters.


 

*It’s always nice to have something exciting coming at ya in the near future!

**Enough snow to require my snow boots!

Make Every Day Everyday

Make Every Day Everyday

|how.odious| Year Two: DAY SEVENTY-SEVEN

2017 January 06 [Friday]

Friday Feature

When the aspects of life that are enacted every day become everyday aspects of life, that’s when the magic happens. Once every day becomes everyday, that’s when every day starts to feel like everything. It’s only against the bland that flavor is tasted. The place at where I [my life philosophy] currently stands reveals the sort of mundane essence of my life, especially since “mundanity” continues to surface as the topic about which I so frequently write. People [read the DISCLAIMER] are constantly bombarding my consciousness with droll remarks about how I must “live life to the fullest,” “live like it’s my last day,” “make every day an adventure,” etc., &c. I fucking hate it because they’ve got it all wrong! But the masses are idiots, so they’ll believe every NEXT AD campaign, which has been specifically designed to rob them blind.

Have you ever wondered why your life sucks, how happiness never finds you, why life doesn’t excite you? Well, I have an small inkling as to a possible answer [not to say that I’m the first or only person to have come to this conclusion]. And I’ll tell you, but it’s not going to be what you think it is. I’ll also only tell you if you can accept that everything that will be said from here on out is all opinion, conjecture, my own experiences that I’m willing to share because maybe I’m onto something. Who knows. It’s all too possible that I’m the idiot, so yea. If I’m the idiot, then everything will make sense to you because that means I’m just a normy, and normies are, generally speaking, quite stupid. If I’m not an idiot, well there’s no way of knowing. So, let’s get to it.

The problem [according to me, the writer of this goddamn post] … a dun dun du da! … is that people think that every day is supposed to be special, an adventure, that every day should be lived like it’s your last. Let me tell ya, that’s the straight and girthy path to unhappiness. If the world is selling you a message that requires your money in order to fulfill, then that’s definitely not the direction in which you want to travel. Listen to how stupid it sounds to say, “Make every experience special with X and Y. Experience every moment to the fullest and remember it as the most special moment of your life through X and Y, and then every moment of your life will be memorable and special because you bought X and Y.” If every single day of your life is special and memorable, that directly contradicts the definition of special. So, what is this “brilliant” conclusion I’ve come to? Well, it’s quite simple actually.

everydayeveryday

If you want some seriously special moments in your life, you need to make every day quite plainly everyday. It’s the banal routine that exciting experiences are set against which ultimately makes those exciting experiences exciting. The same goes for things that you wish weren’t such a big deal. If you want something to be exciting or special, you can’t do it every day. If you don’t want something to be such a big deal, you have to do it every day. Does that make sense? Okay, so here are some examples from my own life.

For starters, I absolutely love [like seriously, I think it’s one of the most entertaining things to listen to people talk about] when people drone on about how hard it is to workout. I mean, I get it, but I also get it. When you only work out, let’s say, once a week, yea, every workout is going to fucking suck. It’ll be tough. And then, when people only workout for a short period of time and then take months off, yea, returning to your workouts is a nightmare. If you don’t want your workouts to be a big deal or anything special because you just want to be able to do it without it being this big production, you need to workout every, single, ephing, day. Or at the very least, every other day. It’s the stuff we do every single day that becomes routine, that we hardly acknowledge as being “special.” You sleep, shit, eat, work [maybe], do the laundry, wash the dishes, clean, shower, etc., regularly, and these sorts of things are nothing special [this is not to say you can’t be grateful for the small things in life, but this is not about that]. So, if there are aspects of your life that you wish were “no big deal,” you’ve got to make them routine. Like picking up a new hobby or learning something new, you’ve got to do it every day, and then, before you know it, it’ll become routine.

The other side of the routine is where the magic happens. Let’s say you eat out every day for dinner. Then, when a special day comes along, like a birthday or celebratory event, picking a restaurant becomes difficult because the restaurant has to be either more expensive or more glamorous than the restaurants you eat at every day. And, I’d wager to say that when you eat out all the time, it’s hard to find the special-ness in eating out for a special occasion. So, the only way to have a special dinner would be to eat in, cook. Does that make sense? Or, looked at another way. If you want to have eating out be a special experience, then you need to eat in regularly, that way, when you eat out, it’s special.

These, I understand, are typically reductive examples, but they are examples from my own life. I can’t really come up with anything astute because I am either too dull or too simple-minded to think of more … relevant examples for the every-person. All of this boils down to the lifestyle that my lifemate and I live. I’ll be shamelessly honest. We basically live at the [by U.S. standards of income] poverty level, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like it. Our everyday life is very much the same. We live on a 15,000 KRW [about $15.00] per day, food budget, not because we have to but because we want to [this does not include the budgets we have for domestic items and entertainment {100,000 KRW/month for each}]. We basically eat the same two dozen things in a weather-coordinated [some things we only eat in the summer because it’s hot, etc.] rotation. We eat out within our daily budget about once or twice a week, and the rest of our money gets saved up or invested.

When the time comes for something special like a holiday or birthday, we greatly exceed our food budget with no financial consequence because the money’s there. We also only watched four movies in a movie theater last year, one of which was while we were on vacation. When we go to the movies, though, we only see them in IMAX 3D. As far as vacationing goes, we vacation once a year, and I’ll just say this, on our most recent ten-day vacation to Vancouver, we lived large. We spent six months saving up all the cash we’d spend on that trip, and after the plane tickets, AirBNB rental and whale-watching tour were booked, we had $200 per day to spend. We had a really hard time spending that much money because that’s a shit ton of money to spend every single day, and not a single penny was added to our credit card. But see, we live every day on a strict budget, that way, when we have the opportunity to spend frivolously we a) have the cash to do it and b) thoroughly enjoy begin able to do it.

Yes, our everyday life seems quite lame, but whenever anything happens beyond the everyday routine we heartily stick to, it’s quite spectacular, special, exciting, adventurous, different. I’m also not saying that we’ve figured it out and that living this way is perfect. Sometimes I just want to do something more, live beyond. And so, sometimes we do. We don’t stick to this plan as if our lives depend on it. We do stick to this plan, though, quite successfully because it’s what we both want. Yes, I can hear you saying, “But you could die tomorrow! If you don’t live now, you’ll never live at all!” I get that sentiment. I also get how hard it is to live a disciplined life most of the time so that you can live large some of the time, but when you do live large, it’s awesome. If you live large every day, then living large becomes routine, which means you’re not really living large anymore, you’re just living your routine life. And to the “But you could die tomorrow!” thoughts I say this, But you could also live until you’re 100. Why feel burned out by life when you’re only sixty or at the pace some people live, at forty?

My whole philosophy revolves around Life making each tier and experience available to me when I’m ready, only when I’m ready. Yes, there’s a strong case to be made for “Living it up!” Where that motivation comes from, however, is a place of fear, fear that your life will be lost without you having experienced EVERYTHING. The more likely case, fortunately, is that you’ll probably live a pretty average life until you’re old and grey. No one wants to accept this, of course. This is the battle. The struggle is real. No matter, living as if you’ll one day be old and grey is living your life through hope.

The whole point is not to point fingers at who’s living better or how to live your best life; the point, for me, is that I want to have truly significant moments and experiences in my life. And so, I consistently think about how to make this happen. If I make every experience significant, though, then none of them will be because that’s my normal. Does that make sense? So, what I do instead is I live a simple life the majority of the time, and whenever anything beyond the ordinary [which is quite ordinary when considering most of my days are filled with coffee first, writing, reading, running, working out, the yoga, some piano playing, watching old movies, shopping for groceries, making dinner, eating dinner, showering, watching basketball games, watching the lifemate play video games, and then sleeping] happens, it’s special, and more importantly, I remember each moment with more clarity and gratitude. [Again, obviously, what I consider to be a simple, boring life is something for which I have immense gratefulness. This, however, is not about that. This is about how, too often times, I hear people complain about how not-exciting their lives are even when they’re jam-packed with excitement, or how it’s impossible to have an exciting life when you don’t have money.]

*sigh. To conclude, I suppose I will end with this: You also don’t want to get too ingrained in a routine either because then you’ll lack growth through the lack of new experiences. Just like how when you go, go, go, it’s hard to grow as well because if you don’t take time to reflect and apply all the lessons you’ve gathered, then the go-getter never finds growth either. The key, of course, then becomes balance. Why, though, is balance so difficult to establish? What is it about being human that swings us so vigorously between extremes?