Tuesday, October 30

Ten Years After

Back in April, Rachel and I celebrated our one-year wedding anniversary. Our second year of marriage is progressing nicely- there's a boy-child on the way, we've signed on for another year in Mokpo, the dog and cat are happy and content... Tomorrow marks another anniversary in our life together: it has been ten years since we met for the first time.

1997: Tim Miller had just hired a cute little high-school girl as a promotions assistant at WOMG where I had been working for about six months doing many of the odd jobs delegated to part-timers. We were both scheduled to man the booth at the Richland Mall Halloween party. Jay Philips was hosting the event along with his wife, Sunny- he was dressed as a knight, she as his maiden fair. Rachel and I wore station t-shirts and handed out stickers to an endless line of ghosts, witches, and Ninja Turtles, all the while laughing and talking and laughing some more.

An instant rapport developed between us: we both loved the station's music (especially The Beatles!), we were both movie snobs, and, though neither of us would have chosen to spend a Friday night at the mall, we made the best of an opportunity to people watch (and mock). We also jumped right into the first of many push-and-pull, confrontational conversations we would have over the next few years. (BTW: These conversations still happen, only now they usually end with Rachel telling me to "shut the hell up," as is her wife's prerogative, of course.)

We worked together often, after that night. Promotions, air-shifts, station emergencies (like when the CD tower broke and we had to play Christmas music for 10 overnight hours, manually cuing each song, praying it would be ready to play before the previous song ended)... she seemed always to be there. Little did I know she was plotting a future for us.

I don't think she planned for our current situation: married, living in Korea, and expecting a child... Oh well, life really is full of surprises, and though we've had some rocky times here and there, I wouldn't change a thing. In her less confrontational moments, I think she'd admit the same.

Happy Ten Years of Knowing You, Baby... With little Gandalf on the way, I look forward to many more decades of friendship and laughing and talking and laughing and love and always laughing...

Listening to: 08 - In My Life [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 29

Good News Everybody!

We had a great walk with Jack this past Saturday, down at Peace Park and in Hadang. The weather was perfect and the weekend crowd was a little thinner than usual. We enjoyed pizza in a cup, while Jack was gang-petted by a bunch of little kids. I saw my first dancing-girl grand-opening- a sight I had heard about many times, but always seemed to miss. There was even a guy holding the two purses of his pair of female companions.

Scroll past the pictures for the good news...

...and now for the good news: WE'RE HAVING A BOY! Rachel visited the OB/GYN last week and had her monthly ultra-sound. Everything is progressing well, the baby is twitching and sucking its thumb and we couldn't be happier. Now all we need is a name... what do you think about "Herschel"?

Monday, October 15

ATM Assignation

Oh, thank Jebus- Rachel returns tomorrow. It's a good thing, too, since I was starting to lose it. Apparently, I'm not the only one: On Friday, while I was waiting my turn outside a busy ATM, I was approached by a 50 year old Korean woman. She motioned for me to remove my headphones and, in pretty decent English, asked where I was from.

"USA," I said, and pointing to myself, "megook (American)."

"Oh, meegook," she responded excitedly, taking my hand in both of hers "How long Korea?" she asked.

"One year."

"You teacher?"

"No," I said, "my wife is a teacher. I play Halo and clean the house." This, I think, went over her head, though she did seem a little disappointed to hear I have a wife.

"Oh, wife-oo." Still holding my hand.

"Neh," I said- Korean for yes.

"You come have copi (coffee)?"

"No, I'm waiting for the ATM, then I have to pay some bills. Sorry." By this time others had skipped past me to use the machine, and I was stuck waiting a bit longer, still holding hands with this strange little person.

"Okay," she said and stared longingly(?) at me. Finally and gently she dropped my hand. Then she leaned in towards me- I saw it coming and wished I had a sneeze or something ready- and puckered her lips. "Kiss me?" she asked.

"No!" I didn't quite shout it but I felt bad for denying her. Hey, she just wanted a little loving, but there was no way in hell she was getting it from this white boy. "I am married," I said, hoping she would think I was just a shy, devoted married man- and not that I was grossed out by those cracked, dessicated lips.

She took it alright. Gave me a big smile and said, "Okay! Bye-bye." She walked off and blended with the busy sidewalk traffic.
I made it to the ATM, payed the bills, and found my way home to a long, hot shower. The sooner my wife arrives in Mokpo, the sooner life can return to normalcy- or what passes for normal in this strange place.

Listening to: Frank Black - [Teenager Of The Year #01] Whatever Happened To Pong [foobar2000 v0.9.3.1]
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 3

Blogposts from the Edge 3

My Dearest One,

I have only a few moments to scrawl this message before my squad moves out into the field. Today we are leading an assault on yet another unimportant hill. Sometimes I think the boys up in HQ forget we are real people under all this armor. Day after day- and every single night- we huddle in our bunkers, ducking sniper fire, and wishing we were home. The worst part is listening to incoming artillery and waiting for the one with our name on it. Then it's up and out of the bunker and into the jaws of enemy fire from where most of us will not return. That's how I got this new stripe on my sleeve. Sarge took one for the team last night and I got a field promotion. I hope the extra cash will buy you something pretty. I hope the extra stripe doesn't buy me the farm.

It's not all bad, of course. Basic training was cake after all those years on Papa's farm. Learning to run with the armor was the toughest bit: you have to develop a kind of gliding gait and let the suit's internal actuators handle the load. Firearms and grenade training were fun- after the endless hours of safety instruction. The weapons are pretty neat and all pack a hell of a punch, which is good and bad since the enemy has the same tech.

Let me tell you about the enemy, the Reds. Those dirty bastards are master snipers at distance, but will happily stick you with a brute grenade to save a rifle round if they can get close enough. They are a scourge on the face of the earth and- though the conditions are horrible, the food little better than excrement and the weather as likely to kill you as one of their bullets- they must be stopped.

But enough of that. Let me tell you about the boys in my squad. (That's them in the picture with me on the far left.) They all swap stories about the "sweethearts" back home: bawdy tales of fast cars and faster women, with each trooper trying to outdo the last in terms of debauchery and sin. The Chief, stoic that he is, never participates in these bull sessions, so when it come my turn to share I follow his example and I keep my lips sealed.

The one time they pressed me on it I broke all their hearts. I told them about your apple pie and baked ziti. I told them about your angelic voice and how your solos in the church choir leave nary a dry eye among the pews. I mentioned the time we drove up into the mountains to return that red-tailed hawk to the wild. I mentioned the aluminum can drives and food drives and winter coat drives. I told them of every kind thing I ever saw you do and how our devotion is pure and beautiful and unspoiled by the distance between us, the war I'm fighting.

I told them why I fight: for the love of a good woman, for her safety, for our child that she still carries and his future. Like I said, I broke their hearts. Like mine is breaking here without you. That war is hell, everyone knows. What most people fail to realize is the hell within, the worry and unabated anticipation of return home. Whether in a body bag or as a decorated hero we'll never know- not until the constant pop and snap of high caliber rifle rounds stops echoing and the bombs stop falling, waking us from dreams of the farm and apple pie.

I must go now, my lover. May you have peace in my absence and remember our song...

There's a far and distant river
Where the roses are in bloom
A sweetheart who is waiting there for me
And it's there I pray you take me
I've been faithful, don't forsake me
I'll be with her when the roses bloom again

Your Loving Husband and Faithful Soldier,