Recollections and Repressions Part II [Travelogue]

travelSo, I have done it once again folks.  I left my family to their own accord as I venture across any given sea across the globe to do what I have always deemed as what I “have to do”.  This is my job I would say.  This is what I do.  And while I know this is true, it really doesn’t make it any easier.  I had such an amazing time coming back to reconnect with my wife and children that I simply did not want it to end.  Even though I know that I will be back in two months, and then three months after that the separation will be a thing of the past.  But, it still doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m writing from the actually pretty damn comfortable aisle seat on hour 4 of a 9 1/2 hour flight to Yokota, Japan.  Life of Pi has just finished up on the small screens, and I still can’t figure out what was so damn fascinating about that movie (so…the tiger just, left?).  Duke Ellington is doobie doing in my ear through a tired iPhone and my chest is still swelling with the bitter taste of sadness.  I am desperately not looking forward to returning to the calm.  Although it may seem like a bit of a silly predicament, but it is a real one in my eyes:  I don’t want to go back to the Songtan lifestyle.  While I like and respect some of my favorite older gentlemen who have made a life in the area, I just couldn’t do it.  As much as I enjoy soju and consistent bouts of alcoholism, I don’t want to go back.  I want my family back.  Yet, I don’t want them in Korea.  It’s just not the place, in my opinion.

View from the Space Needle

View from the Space Needle

On happy notes, like I previously said, I had a blast getting to reconnect with my family after 7 months of isolation.  There are just certain ways you look at each other in real life, that you simply can not see digitally via Skype and what not.  The touch, the feel, the love.  It was all wonderful.  I last left you fine readers on the floor of a Comfort Inn in the SeaTac region.  Needless to say, I didn’t get a flight, and I spent another two glorious days with the ability to rest between the arms of my beautiful wife at night, take my daughter to the bus stop like a decent parent, sit in the waiting room of my daughter’s dance studio like a good daddy, all of these things before Melissa and I were forced to rise at 0130 to make the drive up to Seattle to try and get on another flight.  So many parts of me were begging to not get a spot.  I didn’t want to go.  I still don’t want to go, as I have probably made abundantly clear.  While I have enjoyed Korea to some extents, I just don’t know how I am going to feel after I got a taste of what I was missing.  And brothers and sisters, it tasted damn good.

Even the hometown that I tend to truly loathe was beaming with delightfulness as a ran around Lake Sacajawea with sweat on my brow, or simple soaked in the midnight air with my darling wife and/or sadistically drunk father in law.  It was all fine and great.  Portland proved amazing, once again, and I finally got the family up to the top of the Space Needle, which turned out to be almost exactly as unimpressive as I figure it would be, and cost three times as much as it was even close to being worth, but we did it!  Yes, it was just shy of two weeks, and every day was greater than the next.  This was without a doubt of the best, and ironically saddest, homecomings I have ever had.  It was all hearts and flowers because I waited so long to see the ones I hold dearest to me, but saddened because a homecoming usually meant that I am going to stick around for a while afterwards.  But, alas, here I am on this stupid fucking plane, 4 1/2 hours into the flight, and feeling enraged that this is the third flight I have taken in 7 months, and the new Ice Age movie is STILL FUCKING PLAYING!

seattle2

(Another) View from the Space Needle

I have done the bouts of separation several times before, as many of you already know.  Three deployments to the middle east, two months in the deep south, and countless jaunts across the U.S.  I am always leaving and abandoning my family.  It’s just part of what I do.  In fact, just when I think that I am home for good, something comes up.  Like a year long trip to Korea for instance.  That one sure came out left field.  But, as I tell myself when I am feeling positive, we are over half way through, and we still have a little mini vacation in between that amount of time where Melissa will come and see the lonely ventures I partake in in the land of the morning calm, and I will accompany her back to the states to prepare for our family’s journey to Spain.

Spain!  Spain, Spain, Spain!  It has been the magic word over the last year.  It could mean anything at this point.  We don’t talk about a heaven much in our family, but we certainly talk about a Spain!  It would be an understatement to say that we are all a bit excited.  In fact, the knowledge that I will be headed to Spain after this tour has probably stunted any sort of yearning to explore the “vast” land that is South Korea.  I am so desperate for this time to be over that I seem to refuse to stop and actually enjoy it.  And I honestly have no plans to.  I’ve built my own experiences in this land, and while they may not fit the mold of every tourist or stranger in a strange land, it is what I have accepted as fate, and that it shall be.  Of course, I may still try and get out and about, but I am pretty much in go mode for the European lands.  My beautiful wife wants to vacation in this Paris place with the breads and such, and I will be damned if she doesn’t get what she wants.  Soon we will be spending days off on the beach, lounging away the hours our children are in school, simply relaxing as they frantically build sand castles under the dawning sun. Yes, it seems utterly impossible for Spain not to be absolutely perfect.  And who knows, maybe it’s not.  But, right now it is as beautiful as it gets.  My wife is living in a small bedroom in her parents house with five kids running around.  I am living desolate in a dorm room that simply reeks of loneliness.  She lives at the gym, I live at the bar.  We are both leaning things about ourselves in separate worlds that we probably didn’t actually realize we were looking to find out.  But, we are ready now.  We are ready to get this god damned show on the road, get across that ocean, and begin our lives in constant translation into Espana.

Subaru along Highway 30, Oregon Coast

My pretty little Subaru along Highway 30, Oregon Coast

So while this may not be your conventional travelogue where series of events actually make sense, this is all I have for you (if looking for more experiences and rather somewhere closer to your location – you can find places and learn more here).  Korea was basically a bust.  Unless you have dug the stories I have already told then, I guess it is okay.  I can dig up some more interesting fun facts for future’s sake, but don’t expect too much.  As I said, let’s get to Spain!  That is where I might give a shit enough to write something about the things I see.  Until then, I will try and please you all the best I can.  But, I won’t guaranteed a god damned thing.  Enjoy!

Bike Thief: Live at Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR [06.05.2013]

Bike ThiefLast Wednesday night I was able to make it out to Doug Fir to check out a few local Portland bands. The newest to the scene was actually the headliner, Bike Thief. That’s saying a lot, considering the quality of the two acts before them. Needless to say, this show was superb. Bike Thief was created by the band’s front man, Febian Perez, who has done an outstanding job of making his songs come to life with an 8 piece ensemble. This being my first time hearing Bike Thief live, I was bit worried that the intimate sound would be lost in the shuffle. I also feared that the crowd would dwindle by the time they came on stage being that it was a Wednesday night.

Right from the start my worries disappeared. This show was so good that I expected Tom Waits to jump on stage in a matching black outfit. Not only did people stick around, but they were loving the music.  Being a more mellow, folky band, than the other two acts on the ticket, I imagined it would be difficult to follow an “indie” pop rock band like De La Warr and keep the place satisfied. Yet they did that and more. Balloons fell, people danced, and from the smiles on their faces, I could clearly see that Bike Thief had made a lasting impression on the crowd. The professionalism of this band is commendable given their short time together.

Be on the lookout for big things in the future. http://bikethief.bandcamp.com.

Recollections and Repressions Part I [Travelogue]

02I am writing from a hotel room beside the SeaTac airport just a day prior to what should be an advantageous day sight-seeing a city I rarely visit, and know almost nothing about.  The city of Seattle.  This is just another stop I will be making on my short tour through my homeland known as the Great Northwest.  My time has been spent very well during my first mid tour, and I have been having some of the best times of my life.  I’m frankly not looking forward to returning to the land of the morning calm.  In fact, I sincerely believe that had Korea not been formed a couple of thousand years before earlier, this is the land that could have stolen such a nickname.

 

My time in Korea has not been a total wash.  Although I have failed to document each event specifically, I have definitely tried to make the best of my time abroad.  I have toured a few temples, walked through the streets of Seoul during the daylight hours and witnessed ceremonial dancing and ate some fine traditional Korean food (well, “fine” might be a bit much, the food hasn’t really impressed me at all).  I’ve also spend a rowdy night in Seoul catching up with an old friend, destroying my liver and soul just a bit more with each bottle of Hite or shot of Soju I consume.  I even hiked three miles in a pair of worn out Chuck Taylors just to see a few monuments (this being unplanned and painful, but ultimately pretty okay).  And I have also continued to enjoy my time in the quaint and majestically sinful area previously mentioned as Songtan.  But, still, I am not looking forward to heading back.

 

01It’s not that opportunities in Korea are lacking, because there are definitely chances to explore and see some cool old shit and what not.  But, my heart is just not in it.  Without wanting to be too entirely insulting to an entire nation that has such a varied history, I have decided on a simple fact….. Korea is the Iowa of Asia.  I mean, Iowa might have something to offer as far as tourism and excitement but, c’mon?  Really?  When there are places like the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Japan, even Guam, right in your back door, Korea seems a bit bland.  I don’t mean this to be the opinion of everyone, just mine.  And I don’t want to sound ungrateful or even unimpressed.  I have actually rather enjoyed meeting new friends and such around the ole VFW and other areas around my local area.  It is a fun place, but I can honestly say that my experiences have run their course and I am absolutely ready to go.  Especially after just a week back here.  

 

05I arrived a week ago hopping off a twenty-nine dollar flight and 17 hours of travel.  And when I saw my wife’s face as I rode of the escalator after customs, I was ecstatic.  She was simply glowing and beautiful, just as I had remembered her (on Skype the day prior).  The adventures have been endless, and each deserving of documentation in their own right.  But, alas, the hour grows late, my family is fast asleep with dreams of world’s fair projects and aquatic life visuals for the following day dance in their pretty heads.  A cold Landshark brew cools my toes and I am forced to sit an awkward angle on the floor as my recent tattoo portrayal of the great and wise Gonzo mastermind Hunter S. Thompson can not handle too much pressure seeing as it is less than 36 hours imprinted on my skin.  Just another bout with intense eradicating scar I will leave my homeland with as I eventually venture back to the drunken calm that is Songtan.  Seriously, I don’t want to go back.  I do want to go to Spain, but that is another venture in its own right.

 

In the short 8 days I have been back, I have done almost too much to truly account for.  And at some points I haven’t done a god damned thing.  I paid a visit to my beautiful Grandmother who is about to have her bladder surgically extracted.  I spent one more night on the couch in the basement of my dear friend Tyler Averett’s parents after a wildly and raunchy spoken night with “the Gentlemen”, just as I had done several times over the last twelve years.  This venture included about an hour and a half of Def Comedy Jam style rants and quips that I dare not describe in detail in fear of offending the two or three women who actually read this smut I put out (which is also a cop-out for saying, “I remember doing it, I just don’t remember what was said, but it had to be terrible”).  Sadly (or not?) these nights have officially come to an end.  Sir Averett has finally decided to move on with his life and is moving to Berkeley California, and is probably sleeping off minor jet lag down in the Golden State at this very moment.  But, dammit him, myself, and the delightfully refined Adam Mattson sure did it right.  I awoke dazed, confused, and severely constricted from sadness to notice three empty fifths of booze and I was out of cigarettes.  Sounds like a beautiful night to me.  

 

03Beyond that, my beautiful wife and I got a room at a flea bag motel on Portland Oregon’s east side, just a block away from the Doug Fir Lounge where we enjoyed turkey burgers, Raineer beer (well, I did, Melissa drank her Malibu Rum), and the musical stylings of one of the greatest bands to be performing today, the great Blitzen Trapper (Live Review pending).  This was a magical night as well.  Over the last few years I have grown accustomed to speaking with folks like BT at indie rock gigs, and the humanization has really sunk in.  But to Melissa, seeing the great Eric Earley (who this half-assed music blogger has reported as, “the son Bob Dylan wished he would have had”) was absolutely spell binding.  Even cute.  She is so enthralled by this man’s presence, it was like watching Jesus resurrect himself.  Or like the time I met Jared Mees in 2009 when I was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about meeting a musician I admired.  Not to say that I wasn’t at a loss for words when meeting Eric, but it wasn’t as dramatic, and I was blushing a whole lot less than Melissa was.  Yes, Blitzen Trapper is a very important band to us.  Their words have meant the world to the both of us for more reasons than I actually care to get in to.  Just understand that they are important to us now, and shall always be.

 

So, I was gleefully writing this silly diatribe of mine, in the dark and half drunk from WIld Turkey, a reunion with the greatest thing to come out of Korea known as Soju, and the fore mentioned Landshark followed by a new one, when I glanced at the television to see the city I currently sit in being profiled on the Weather Channel series It Could Happen Tomorrow to not only be intrigued, but absolutely frightened.  According to this propaganda, the events of the Bay Area in 1989 would look like the Boston Marathon to Seattle’s 9/11 if the same entirely possible scenario occurred to the hypothetical “tomorrow”.  And seeing as though I am actually headed to tour around this city a bit, and actually head up that whole Space Needle thing that I have yet to do in my almost thirty years of existence and seemed like a fitting outro before I become European and celebrate a half of a decade abroad…..  I am a bit frightened.  It is probably the midnight hour and the booze that sparks paranoia, but dammit am I compelled to post this extremely rough drafted and poorly spell check travelogue up before I could possibly be thrown from the Space Needle tomorrow.

 

04On that note, I shall call this Part 1 for now.  Wish me luck.  And South Korea, if tomorrow is my punishment for not living your country to the fullest, well, that’s just mean.  Good night everyone and best of luck in all your tomorrows…..if you are so lucky.  Cheers!