When The Storm Lay Gyeongju Low

My son and I were wandering the Bronze Age petroglyphs on the far side of the Hyeongsan River and the feeling in the air was already bizarre, as he had just pointed at one of the sheer cliffs and exclaimed “Buddha!”, despite having no apparent knowledge that the area was some kind of sacred fertility precinct thousands of years ago (in Korean it’s called “애기 청소 / Aegee Chungso / Baby-Washing”). The carvings on the rocks are visible if you look closely—I only discovered them after taking a picture, draining the colors, and then fiddling with the contrast—but I find it somewhat eerie that the boy found his own arcane way of sensing their spiritual significance.


After an hour of reading I’ve finally started to write, which means that my son will wake up soon.

Our new house has an office, and by that I mean a room with large windows overlooking the older parts of the city, a table, numerous ESL textbooks that no one ever touches, two chairs, and a cheap old Korean couch that doubled on exactly one occasion as a bed for a guest. This room is vitally important because I can come here before the sun comes up and when the sky out the bedroom window is a faint pink fabric glowing ever brighter against the blue of the night and the stars you can sometimes see despite all the cities and all the light pollution—I can come here, and sit, and work, maybe for an hour or so if I’m lucky, without waking up the boy.

Ghetto Playground Liberation

I knew there was a lot of garbage in Korea, I’ve written about the garbage here a thousand times before, it’s even how my book about this place opens up, during my trip to America one of my relatives even commented on how dark and depressing an opening this was—and yet, this morning when I ventured outside into the molasses-thick humidity at the behest of my son (yelling at me to put on his shoes in Toddlerese and then yelling at me while pointing to the door), and went to the deserted and very poor excuse of a playground that we frequent merely because it is close to the apartment, I was still astounded that people anywhere could live like this.

Listen To Your Body

Last night I fell asleep sometime between six and seven. I don’t know how many days it’s been—maybe a week, maybe more—but it feels like I’ve been working, procrastinating, and taking care of the baby all the time, every day, for a fairly good while now. Last Thursday I realized rather abruptly that I had worked for twelve straight hours, either teaching college students, working their grades into a spreadsheet, or tutoring younger students. I haven’t been able to dedicate myself to writing or reading in at least a week, and now I feel as if I can’t get back into that creative world until this fever pitch of machine labor comes to an end. I don’t know when this is going to happen. We’re going on vacation in America in two weeks or so, but we’re anticipating that the trip itself, the flight over the Pacific with a 13 month-old child, will be the most difficult thing my wife and I have ever done—rivaling the day he was born.

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