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Monday, October 26, 2015

Not My Usual Style

Last week at our Life Group meeting there were just two of us, Izette and myself. We talked about many things, among them the idea of changing our meeting day from Monday to Friday. Because after all, who really likes Monday morning for anything? Judging by our lackluster attendance, no one in particular.

Today I was first joined by one of our newer members, Anel. She is in a difficult situation because her husband works in a different city, and she works here in Busan. Their three-year-old son stays with her husband and his family, so she sees him whenever the family brings him to Busan. She is worried about her son's English, as well as his faith.

I asked her the obvious question: Why doesn't she live with her family, and just stay in Busan Wednesday through Friday, the days she works? She told me that she would miss our church and this Life Group.

It is not my usual style to give advice, but ignoring this would have felt like criminal negligence.

"You should be living there and just coming to Busan for work!" I told her. "Just last week we were discussing moving our group day to Friday, which would let you continue. You would still miss Sunday services, but the sermon is posted on YouTube every week. Matthew gave the sermon yesterday and said that half of the sermon takes place in Life Groups! Here!"

The pieces all seem to fit together: her in-laws are welcoming and kind, just not proficient in English. Her son needs her, and she needs to be with him. And while there may not be an English church there now, Anel may be the seed of a new church in that community some day, but not if she keeps hiding here.

I don't know how it feels when the Holy Spirit works in other people. The Bible is not very descriptive on that sort of thing, focusing more on actions and results. But today I felt that the Holy Spirit moved in me, pushing me to advise a woman who I have only known for a couple of months to make a major change in her life pattern. It is not my usual style to give advice, but sometimes we have to move beyond what we are used to.

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Like water from a rock in the desert,
      the words seem to spring up from nowhere.
Look what I've made!  How clever I am!
I forget that every word in the cistern of my skull
     was first poured in from elsewhere:
          from a book, a movie, a friend, a teacher.
And I should never be quick to write off
     the fountain of words from which I first sipped;

When my son and I said,
     in the exact same tone of voice
          at the exact same time,
               "Now THAT'S a mosquito!"
I realized that I was not the only one turning into his father.
I realized that a childhood spent
     swigging the words of my mother,
     guzzling the words of my father,
Would lead to me pouring out this inevitable concoction today.

So here's to your words,
     may you always pour and drink well.

So after writing my post, 30 minutes or it's free I became aware of an event called Wordz Only, put on by my coworker, Kenneth May. I really wanted to be part of it. I had little to no idea what to expect from it, but I wanted to be in it. And a poem sort of bubbled its way up out of my head. The story about Quinten just wanted to be written. I thought it would be a Roblog post, and it may still be part of one (along with me saying something just like Horyon's father,) but not right now.

I sent the first version to Kenneth, and he suggested that I try using "imagistic language instead of composing statements." Good advice. I ended up adding the first line, about water from the rock, and the idea of words being like water that we drink suddenly came into focus, and ended up permeating the entire piece. I have tweaked it and added bits and taken out bits, and even now it is not the same as what I read yesterday. But this is the version that is going up on the internet, so it's about as finished as it's going to get.

I told Horyon that I wanted to go to an event on Saturday night, but I didn't tell her that I would be reading something until the day of Wordz Only. When she found out, she was excited and wanted to come with me. We had a good evening, and spent a lot of time talking both before and after. It was fun for both of us, though there were some pieces (including mine) that she didn't understand. To be fair, there were some pieces that I did not so much understand as experience. It was a nice break from the concrete language that I use during the work week.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Back to Habits

Sunday I officially signed on to Busan's Biggest Loser #5, a diet competition based on the television show. I checked my weight: 103.5 kg (228 lbs). I have been stalled at this weight for about five months now, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Considering that seven months ago I weighed in at 117 kg (257 lbs). holding steady is a good thing; the usual pattern after weight loss is to gain some, if not all of it back.  So something had definitely changed.

I decided to join BBL5 about four days before the first weigh-in, and remembered that the organizer, Mike, had told me that previously contestants spent a lot of money on buffets before the contest started. After all, the more weight you have to lose, the more you can lose, right? So I decided to take a page from that playbook:

I ate a lot of tasty bread. The local French Bakery (featuring a real, live French guy you can see working in the second story kitchen) makes a lovely olive bread stuffed with cheese. (Give me a second to clean the drool off of my keyboard.) There is a corner stand that sells boneless fried chicken on a stick, with sweet chili sauce, please! There are coffee drinks that are prepared with all manner of sweet ingredients and whipped cream on the top. And candy bars. I drank four cans of Pepsi that week, as well as drinking cola with a meal. The worst was at meal time, when I ate until I was full, then ate just a bit more.

Until April I was drinking only a can or two of Pepsi a week, but the rest of those habits were totally mine. Then I did the juice thing, and dropped that down to once a month, and then as a mixer. My eating habits changed as my stomach got smaller, and I consciously avoided the larger portions I was accustomed to. Eventually I became accustomed to smaller portions, and stopped thinking about it at all.

So last week I broke all the "rules" and went back to my old habits. When I mentioned this in the office, one of my coworkers asked me, "Doesn't it feel good?"

My immediate answer was "No. I feel gross."

"I mean the taste, in your mouth!"

"Yeah, that's good for the first drink, and the first few bites. But as I drink cola and stuff myself with food, I just start to feel yucky. I've been doing it for just two days now, and I feel like a big block of lard."

It occurred to me that I must have felt that way all the time when I ate that way all the time, I just never noticed. I like to think that if I had noticed myself feeling that nasty, I would have lost weight just to avoid that feeling, but I would not wish that constant awareness of one's body on my worst enemy.

Just imagine if you were aware of every bit of discomfort in your body: even mosquito bites would be intolerable. A broken leg would drive you to madness if you could never get comfortable with the pain. I understand that some people with autism are acutely aware of the feeling of their clothes against their body. Time to move to a tropical country with a high tolerance for scant clothing.

Being comfortable with your current condition is a survival skill, but being uncomfortable with it is the path to progress.

I am on the path to progress. I have dropped one of the three kilograms I picked up last week just by reverting to my old new habits: eating less, fewer carbs, more vegetables. Today I made vegetable juice, hoping to spend a few days on a juice fast. I have enough to get me through tomorrow and into the next day, but unfortunately I tried to juice a peach pit. Bit mistake, juicer out of commision.  I will make the juice last a couple of days and try to get a replacement part soon, but in the mean time it is more raw veggies, more exercise, and no more tasty olive bread for me.

Oh yeah, we went to Gumi for Chuseok. Here are some pictures.

A cousin's home

The church built on the site of my father-in-law's home

Heading up Gumo Mountain
No, we are not walking all that way up.

Entrance to a Buddhist Temple

Maxine and I further up the mountain
This was a good trip, and deserves its own write-up, but this will have to do: the last time I went to Gumi was in 2002, I think, the Chuseok after we got married. I vowed to never again make that trip during Chuseok, as the traffic was so terrible. It took us 2.5 hours to get there, and six to get back. This time both legs of the journey were about the same. Korean highway driving is still no fun, but at least it wasn't bumper-to-bumper.

A Brief Introduction

Roblog is my writing lab. It is my goal to not let seven days pass without a new post. I welcome your criticism, as I cannot improve on my own.

Here is a link to my cung post, which remains the only word which I have ever invented, and which has not, as far as I know, caught on. Yet.