run while you can

A week-old weekend.

Been a week since we’ve posted fresh content. Trust me, faceless reader, keeping you guessing is not an easy task… Is Like a Wave a photographer’s blog? a poet’s blog? a skater’s blog? a self-indulgent, maniac’s blog? Well, Julius certainly can’t make this conundrum any clearer…
But before you lies a load of garbled nonsense, a week’s worth of… whatever it is we do here.

벤자민,
Hard to believe all this commotion is becoming commonplace. Perhaps aging’s tell-tale sign is a sharp* sense of self. No, seriously, you adapt well while rarely compromising your innermost sanctuary, that hollow skull of yours, your empty thoughts. Some things never change.

There's a world out there. Icheon, South Korea. Spring 2011.

Back to business, here we are, Friday afternoon, exhausted, attempting to capture the essence of a week-old weekend. There is a definite chance this effort is in vain; it is very much so too late. But, Ben, I must say, you’ve dug yourself out of a dark and dingy pit. In other words, productivity is high, spring has triggered a virtuous cycle, and, cryptic jargon aside, life has been a radical whirlwind.

FRIDAY:
After teaching five well-rehearsed lessons at school and methodically tying a small box full of possessions to the rear rack of a bicycle, you began the brief trip downtown. A gentle breeze lifted your spirits without impeding your need for speed. The past returned as you quickly passed the shop where, long ago, you made the mistake of purchasing a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich. For around 70 cents, you acquired a mouthful of anomaly: bread that managed to be simultaneously soft and stale, peanut butter that refused to be creamy or crunchy, and jelly that went untasted and unseen. Letting the past pass, you pedaled more furiously.
Before long, you crossed the bridge over the river that flows just outside Icheon proper.

Just outside Icheon Proper. Icheon, South Korea. Spring 2011.

During the winter months, the government stationed several workers at this location to administer a spray disinfectant on passing cars. The fluid protected against a disease born in animal’s hooves, carried in dirt. (This is the understanding you came to after questioning many natives on the subject).
In those days, the spray never bothered you much. Now, the warm weather got you thinking about aftereffects. But worries washed away as you reached downtown.
You bought a Snickers bar at the corner store because they sell the dark chocolate variety. After munching the bar, you lit a cigarette and sat on the stoop of your pal’s place. Satisfaction gleamed at you as you glanced over the events of the previous week…
Your students were unusually respectful, your cooking improved (as has steadily been the case), and, again, productivity was high…
In the moment, even your very location was satisfying. With a mouthful of bitter chocolate/tobacco flavor, you soaked in jacket-lessness. You enjoyed the fact that you had arrived at your destination without the knowledge of your host. This is to say, you secretively straddled the finish line; it felt good.

SATURDAY:
After a late night, an early morning felt oddly appropriate. For breakfast, you ate eggs twisted together like cake roll; the yellowish yoke spinning around in a delicious, almost hypnotic fashion.
Outside, the cool breeze took your breath away. You strode, determined to enjoy a great day.
At Seolbong park you landed two sloppy tre flips on your skateboard. Bam! Learning that inner old-dog of yours some  new, old tricks. In the midst of it all, a skater pal broke his board. Ceasing a photo opportunity, you gladly loaned him your useless wooden toy. A Korean boasting size 7 feet, he struggled atop your 8.25 inch monster (hehe). Eventually 관수 popped a healthy heelflip (Alan Jackson looked on).

Dong Gwan-su does a heelflip. Seolbong Park. Spring 2011.

Satisfied, you turned around to take in a young girl absorbed in her bicycle.

Human hands. Seolbong Park. Spring 2011.

(Back in the day, a girl on the block had had a bicycle equipped with a jewelry box. Even you, a boy, gazed on, mesmerized by the ingenuity. Why didn’t all bicycles come with such accessories?– A question yet unanswered).
After skating, you happily purchased an overpriced bottle of cabernet sauvignon. Sigh. Cheap wine is an American invention.
Sipping scantily from a coffee-stained coffee mug, you took to writing like birds to the… not feather. At length you decided reading was a better outlet for your judgmental mind, which was toying with impairment. (The book with feathers on the cover).

All she wrote. One room. Icheon, South Korea. Spring 2011.

i called you ‘quite the southern goth’
whatever, sure sure, another Faulkner
carrying the torch, torching tradition
quite alike, those characters you created:
prosthetic limbs, burdened by books
(academic or, better, the good one).
battering ram: social hierarchies,
moralities, ideologies, mythologies…
shock treatment, stroke, repentance…
(even refusal of everything under His son)

Before long, you found yourself strolling , alone, absorbing the last hour or so of sunlight.

Carrying the torch. Icheon, South Korea. Spring 2011.

Walking wore off what was left of the wine. Naturally a nap was in order.
By the time you opened your eyes, your host, Alan Jackson (AKA Anthony Austin), was warning that two Uzbekistanis would be arriving shortly. You rubbed your eyes in disbelief. A mild headache set in.
…Now I’ve got to rewind time and explain how you found yourself in this awkward predicament…
A month ago, you were parading around downtown with your ol’ and present pal, Tony (Alan Jackson, Dirt Dog, TKO, Jazzy Jeff, Denny, Tom A, Two-Tone, T)…
Two strangers approached. A situation muddied by language ensued:
“외국인 사람?” the younger stranger asked.
This was a familiar question: Are you a foreigner?
“마자요” was the reply. Do I look like a foreigner? But, you’re right.
“외국인 사람, 토카태 praw-bleum.” Apparently these chaps were ex-pats too… from, they said, Russia…
Funny how solidity works. Here were two Russian fellows, claiming that being different made you the same. Their logic, oddly impeccable, ate at your soul.
In American, cohesion is complex. You are American, that’s your nationality. But then we go and splinter that all up with ideas of genealogy, ethnicity. Your ‘homeland’ is that place you’ve never seen. Maybe your great grandmother cooks up the occasional kielbasa, but that’s as close as you’ll come to the motherland… Horrid, unintelligible digression. Anyway, the Russians turned out to be Uzbekistanis fond of making American friends…

Before you realized the peculiar nature of this social engagement, there was laughter behind the apartment door. A solid three-some of ex-Soviets waltzed in… excuse me, Alan Jackson is only an American in love with iron curtains.
You tossed on a sweater and proceeded to promenade around downtown with these gentlemen.
The trip was stifled by introductions to half-acquaintances and complete strangers. Ultimately, the group, inspired by hunger, decided to return back to the country superstar’s crib; pancakes and oatmeal were on the menu.
Under Eastern eyes, you attempted to discuss music. The brothers, apparently, were late Backstreet Boys fans, no joke, constantly singing “Ever-e-body!!” in the same demeanor as the dead boy band (which you found far more amused than irritated). Eventually you handed them Alan Jackson’s acoustic guitar; they posed for a photo.

They dont play around. Two-room. Icheon, South Korea. Spring 2011.

Dinner was a smashing success. Pancakes injected with sweet potatoes were rapidly consumed with chopsticks; oatmeal infused with raisins acted as dessert. The brothers ate it up amidst language exchange/exclaim. Everything seemed so idyllic. You smiled constantly, considering the definition of ‘brotherhood.”

SUNDAY:
After breakfasting on peanuts, you wrangled yourself out the door, dressed to impress. Your sabbath was to be spent selling juice, wearing a bow-tie alongside your Korean pal, Yongwoo (not exactly a day-of-rest).
Yongwoo is a rare breed of Korean. He cuts against the grain, enjoys new experiences, and quite openly exhibits a myriad of emotions. Case-and-point, at the age of thirty, Yongwoo purchased his first skateboard. He has been diligently learning the art since that time
Downtown, equipped with two blenders, you set up shop: a clumsy table comprised of stacked boxes and a busy tablecloth. Atop the table lay the most colorful of materials: fruits (strawberries, grapes, pineapple, bananas, and kiwi). For two thousand won (about $2), blended heaven could be bought.

Yongwoos trade. Icheon, South Korea. Spring 2011.

Hours passed. You sold over 200 drinks. Your back was sore. But, damn, it was worth it. You were overwhelmed by this unexpected, happy surprise: a return to the customer service industry. Toting a towel and apron, you spun drinks like a DJ at a turntable, spitting a language all your own. Nothing could have been more delightful than aiding Yongwoo in his ambitious entrepreneurship: selling smoothies. Your inner-barista let loose: slanging slurpees, dishing icees, and all that jazz. There you were: a creature in his own domain, labor.
At length the day wound down; the sun diminished to a mere glow below the treeline. If you had not known any better, you might have assumed that the western mountainside had caught ablaze. But no, only your feet burned as you pedaled away from the city of art, Icheon-si.

Art can be cute. Icheon, South Korea. Spring 2011.

Please consent that I did your weekend justice. A pinnacle in your life abroad? Or is your rambunctious gallivanting typical? Time will tell me. Or maybe this fatigue I feel as Friday nears another finish is the answer. You’re playing parent and child, working responsibly while indulgently playing. That’s the candle at both ends, chap.
Here’s to you for finding springtime.
Here’s to you for losing track of time.

Still stealing the tip of your tongue,
Julius Keen

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2 responses

  1. Sugar Chop (?)

    What a great post Ben, I love it! My favorite part was when you sold juice. That Yongwoo guy sounds pretty cool, especially if he started skating at age 30. Wow. Your back is giving you trouble, eh? Mine does too, but I found some exercises that make it a little better. There’s like six of ’em. One of them is the trunk lift, you just lay on el estomago and lift up your trunk.

    April 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm

  2. Mittenssilverbow

    In all your glory… you still relied to heavily on spell check, and at one point wrote “better” instead of “butter”. Shame. Remember when I was Mucho when I harassed you on here? Oh those were the days. No stress of rambling about music every fucking friday.

    April 24, 2011 at 4:30 am

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