New music

Over a week ago, Grace introduced me to David Gray, an English singer-songwriter. Ever since I’ve been listening to his songs everywhere I go (on the way to work, jogging, doing chores around the house). Along with Roma Di Luna, listening to all these mellow songs, I just feel calmer throughout the day.

Posted on July 24, 2010 at 9:58 am by Lee · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Music · Tagged with: , ,

The World of Meditation

I decided that it is now the right time to write about my current life journey. This will be the first of many.

As I mentioned, I am from Korea. I was adopted at a very late age by an American family. Growing up, they have been very caring and supportive. I always felt loved. But there was a part of me that I kept hidden from them. I don’t think I was ever ready to discuss some of the feelings I had as an adoptee. It’s not that I don’t think they will understand. It’s more that I am still unsure about what I’ve been feeling all these years.

After getting my Bachelor’s, I moved immediately to Korea. It began with my desire to learn more about my roots as well as my love for traveling. I met a lot of great people here, many of them adoptees. My original plan was to stay here for a year or two, but that led to 4 and half years. After briefly living in Chicago for a couple of years, I found myself back once again. Now it’s been two and half years. Of course my days of partying and drinking continued.

It wasn’t until I stopped drinking that I realized that I had all this pent up anger and sadness inside me. I couldn’t figure out if it had anything to do with my adoption. I needed to figure out something about myself. I needed to learn more about why I am feeling this way and what I can do to heal myself. And since I’m not fluent in Korean, it’s hard for me to see a shrink in Korea. I could go back to the US and find one, but that would mean I would have to drop everything and go.

Then I started reading online about meditation. I have a friend who has always practiced meditation. He even encouraged me to try it once, but I was never patient enough. This time though, I decided that I should just give it a try. At first, it was hard. I had all these thoughts floating around in my head. It was nearly impossible to silence them. As soon as I stopped one voice, another would just start back up. Eventually though, it felt a little easier. I am still not quite sure about the proper techniques, but I realized that it has started to help me think clearer. I still have a long way to go, but I know that this is something that could help me get closer to the root of my problems.

Ok. I’m tired. It’s like after 1 in the morning, and I’ve been up since 4:30 am. I will pause here for now.

(to be continued…)

Posted on July 24, 2010 at 1:17 am by Lee · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: My Life, Self Discovery · Tagged with: , , ,

Stop throwing away money…

For some reason, I haven’t been saving as much as I used to. What’s up with that? I decided that it was time to pay more attention to my finances and stop buying everything that I see.

In general, it is cheaper to live in Seoul. The rent is lower, the food is by far cheaper, and I definitely don’t need a car. I am paying around $700 in rent (although with the current exchange rate it’s more like $650) for a place that is equivalent to a one room apartment in the US. It is a loft style, but the loft itself is too low. It’s a good thing I’m short. My other bills (utilities, gas, electricity, cable/internet, and cell phone coverage) add up to about $250 a month. That means I spend about $950 a month on rent and all the bills. That is something I can’t change at the moment. I know that is what I will have to spend in order to maintain this current lifestyle. The trick is trying to figure out how else I throw away my hard earned cash. Transportation is also an important factor here. If I take the subway to work everyday, I would be spending about $40-50 a month. Now if I throw in an occasional cab ride (which is still dirt cheap in Korea), I could spend another $40-50 a month.

Besides the usual bills and transportation, food has to be at the top of the list. You can get a nice lunch for about $5 (and some people are able to find places for even less). Dinner can also be about the same, although if you decide to eat meat (Korean barbecue), it could cost up $15. So overall it really doesn’t cost much to survive in Seoul.

I went back a couple of months to see how much I actually spent on crap. Between May and June, I spent close to $4500. Now let’s deduct rent and the bills for the two months. That means I spent $2600 on food, transportation, alcohol, and god knows what else ($1300 a month). That’s just crazy. I can’t imagine spending that kind of money on anything. Of course eating out every meal and going out quite often with friends definitely do not help.

Now let’s look at some of the changes I have been making, which started in June. I stopped drinking. I decided to cook more. I take the subway back and forth to work most of the time, rather than taking. I’ve been eating breakfast everyday and jogging regularly. And since I started eating breakfast, I’ve been smaller meals the rest of the day. So far in July (as of the 23rd), I have spent $500 on food and such. Compare that to the $1300 I was spending the last couple of months. I can’t believe how much money I was throwing away on booze and eating out and taxi rides. I’m just baffled right now. I feel like I should have started this a while ago. Anyway, I feel healthier, I have more energy, and I am saving a lot more. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

So if you want to try to save money, cut off the booze, cook more at home, and just be more conscious of what you buy. It’s something that has definitely opened my eyes.

Posted on July 24, 2010 at 12:39 am by Lee · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Culture, Korea, My Life · Tagged with: , , , ,

Wonders of Picasa

I have a MacBook Pro (the smaller one). For a while I’ve been debating how to organize all my thousands of pictures: iPhoto or Picasa. After reading more about their differences in forums and other blogs, I realized that since I also have a Windows XP based PC, it makes more sense to use something that is designed for both machines. iPhoto is great in a lot of ways, including its editing capabilities. However, I chose to use Picasa because of its flexibility in platforms.

Ok, now that I’ve chosen which software to use, I needed to actually sit down and go through several thousand pictures. After a couple of hours of organizing (and through about 10% of my pics), I realized that my system lacked something. I was naming each individual picture and placing them in some arbitrary folder. It made it near impossible for me to find the picture I was looking for, or better yet the picture that I didn’t know I had. I scrapped the whole system and switched to a more or less chronological order. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of that. Sometimes my brain is just slow…

Anyway, the new organizing scheme worked perfectly. I was able to create new folders within folders that helped separate the different events. Another feature I tried is People (Faces for iPhoto users). This allows you to look at all the pictures a certain person (that you must identify manually) is in. It’s quite amazing how accurate the software is in recognizing the faces. It did have problems with some Asian faces though. I guess even Picasa thinks that a lot of Asians look alike. It still worked great, but then after a while, I got a little freaked out. I didn’t want to stare at just the closeup mugshots of all my friends. I took quite a lot of shots of the crowd at certain events, like the World Cup games in Korea. I don’t know any of the people in the picture, but when you are packed among hundreds of thousands of people, cheering on the national team, you kind of don’t have to know anyone. Picasa started to show close ups of each person in the crowd, and it took forever for me to have it ignore them. Oh well. Nothing is ever perfect.

Now that I have a good system of organizing, I need to pick out some memorable ones and post them somewhere online. A great feature of Picasa is how easy it is to upload the pics to the Picasa Web Album and then easily add to Flickr. Too bad my attention span is like a 5-year-old, so I can’t focus on something like that for a while. But someday. Someday you will see pictures of me (and friends and places I’ve been). Stay tuned.

Posted on July 16, 2010 at 6:43 am by Lee · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: My Life, Pictures · Tagged with: , , , ,

Garage sale anyone?

Garage sale? What garage sale? No such thing in Korea. Sure there are people who go to farmer’s markets. Sure there are those who trade their books at a used book store for other books. But why can’t the people in your neighborhood just gather together to try to have a garage sale?

I decided to finally do some spring cleaning. I have an old desktop computer that doesn’t quite work. I kept the hard drives but decided to get rid of everything else. I have an old PS2 that I haven’t touched in like 3-4 years, along with over 100 games. I could have sold these things online somewhere. I’m sure there are other expats who might be interested. But I’m lazy. Instead, I decided to just throw everything out. The problem is that you can’t really do that in Korea. You have to call someone to pick up your junk, especially your furniture. I took everything downstairs only to see the security guard look at me funny. He was like, “What are you doing with all that?” I tried to explain that I just wanted to “donate” everything. And he was like, “Sure. I will help you out. Just give me $10 and I will get rid of it all for you.” In America, I would tell him to get lost and go on with my business. But here in Korea, that’s how it works.

In order to get rid of stuff like computers, sofas, tables, chairs, so on (anything fairly big), you must pay someone to come pick it up. What happened to just leaving the junk outside your place and have someone just wonder around and grab what they want? It makes no sense to me. Anyway, knowing that is how things work in Korea, I just gave the guy the $10 bucks and scurried back to my empty apartment. I’m sure he was laughing the whole time. He probably just turned around and told his friend how these foreigners are so stupid. I’m sure he and his friend sold everything for a lot more than I thought possible.

The other day, Ben (another manager at my school) and I went over to where the teachers live and got rid of an old bed that we no longer needed. We had to pay $20 to have the right to throw it away. We originally paid like $50-60 for it a couple of years ago. Can you imagine paying $50-60 for a crappy bed, only to pay another $20 just to get rid of it? There’s something terribly wrong with this system. But such is life.

Posted on July 9, 2010 at 9:51 pm by Lee · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Culture, Korea, My Life · Tagged with: , ,

Miami Bound…

It’s official. LEBRON JAMES will now join DWYANE WADE and CHRIS BOSH to play for the MIAMI HEAT!!! I hope it’s the right decision and that he wins multiple Championships. This is the beginning of a new Dynasty!

Posted on July 9, 2010 at 10:59 am by Lee · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: LeBron James, Sports · Tagged with: , , ,

I believe in you Jared!!

As I mentioned before, I am from Ohio. I am a product of Ohio State. Both my parents went there. I grew up watching Ohio State football and Ohio State basketball. If I had ever mentioned “Michigan” in the house, my dad would probably have disowned me. Anyway, I still follow all things related to Ohio State. Football is a no brainer. We have one of the best teams in the country, year in and year out. Basketball on the other hand, has only been great from time to time. Some of you may remember the greats such as Jerry Lucas, John Havlicek, Dennis Hopson, Herb Williams, Jim Jackson, Perry Carter, Michael Redd, Scoonie Penn, Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and the most recent Evan Turner. Turner was drafted #2 overall by the 76ers a few weeks ago. Despite all these great players, we only won one championship, in 1960 (with the help of Lucas, Havlicek, and Bobby Knight).

I am hoping that this year will be different… much different. We finally have a player who was destined to be a Buckeye. His name is Jared Sullinger. If you want to read more about him, check out this Yahoo article. You can also read this ESPN article, which talks more about Ohio State’s chances this year. While he may only be a Freshman this Fall, I certainly have high hopes for his career. I think he is a stud now, and he will only get better.

He went to Northland High School, where his father coaches. He has two brothers who played basketball, including J.J. who played at Ohio State. One of my friends from middle school ended up attending Northland. They always had a good football team but never a good basketball program. I guess the new coach changed all that since I’ve been out of the country. I remember driving by that school many times on my way to my mom’s school. Not the most exciting place to drive by to tell you the truth.

It is interesting how such an average school like Northland can produce someone so special like Jared. Now, I know he’s no LeBron James. But I can only hope that he will someday be as dominant in the college level.

Posted on July 6, 2010 at 11:53 pm by Lee · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Ohio State, Sports · Tagged with: , ,

Why don’t you all just stay home?

I’ve been having some trouble sleeping recently. I would wake up in the middle of the night (several times) and would just lay there trying to find a way to fall back asleep. A couple of times, I got up at like 5 in the morning for a light jog. I figured, why not? Since I’m already awake, maybe it would help me sleep. Wrong. It still didn’t work. But one good thing that came out of it is my desire to run again.

Now, it can get pretty damn hot in the summer in Seoul, so ideally I like to run early in the morning. But the last couple of days, I actually did get some sleep and ended up waking up after 8am. I tried jogging at that time once. Never again. It is unbearable. Then tonight, I had a lot of energy. I knew that it would take forever for me to fall asleep, so I decided to go for a light jog.

I live near a small University (Kyodae). There is this nice track that belongs to the school. It is almost always crowded since it is the only place around here that people can use to play all sorts of sports. What is really annoying is that some people pretend that the track belongs to them. There is a lovely soccer field in the middle, which is great for SOCCER. And yet, some people practice playing soccer on the TRACKS, on the hard, NON-GRASSY tracks. WTF? Sometimes I get a kick out of having to run around these people. It is quite a challenge to have all these obstacles along the way. But usually it is just down right annoying.

Anyway, shortly after 9pm, I went for a light jog thinking that no one would be out. Wrong again. Where in the world did all these people come from? I arrived only to discover a sea of strangers walking (some jogging), trying to fight their way through the crowd. Fortunately, most people just walked, so I was able to weave my way around them… but still, where did all these people come from? Even though I was a bit annoyed at having to fight my way through the crowd, I was quite impressed to see so many people wanting to stay somewhat in shape. I just wish they would find somewhere else to exercise. I guess I don’t really own the track, so I shouldn’t say anything… but still… It was quite a sight.

Now I gotta decide whether to wake up very early in the morning like before 7 (highly unlikely), jog in the extreme heat (it gets very hot around 9am), or fight my way through the crowd at night. No matter what I end up choosing, something bad’s bound to happen. I wish it is easier for me to run on a treadmill, but at my old age, my knees start bothering me after a while. Oh well. Who says life is fair?

Posted on July 6, 2010 at 11:14 pm by Lee · Permalink · One Comment
In: Exercise, My Life · Tagged with: , , ,

Detox…

I decided a week ago to stop drinking for at least the next 3 months. Ever since I turned 21 (maybe even before that), I don’t know if I’ve ever gone that long without at least one drink. I realized that I don’t really like some of the things I do or say when I drink. I have a hard time focusing and concentrating on my work. It’s getting more difficult to remember certain things. Maybe it’s a sign of old age. Maybe I lost too many brain cells from my days of listening to loud music and head-banging. Whatever it is, I feel much better now that I’ve stopped drinking. I like this new me. I will eventually drink again, but it will be in moderation. But for now, I will remain sober for at least 3 months, possibly even longer.

Tonight, I made my first public appearance as a non-drinker. There was a surprise birthday party for a friend’s girlfriend. It was quite interesting to be in a room with all those people who were already drunk (at 9 pm). A friend of mine asked me why I stopped drinking. No matter my response, he didn’t understand why I would choose to not drink. I must have looked and sounded like an alien or something because he kept asking me. Anyway, eventually he forgot what we were talking about (or maybe the conversation got old) and started talking about something else. There are some in my social group who already don’t drink at all. Now I finally see what it’s like for them. I think it will be fun to hang out with them and take pictures of all the silly drunks making fools out of themselves.

Another reason for not drinking is I want to lose some weight. I feel so fat and sluggish right now. I even started jogging, but I’m gonna need new running shoes soon. A friend told me to get those shoes with toes (vibrams?). Anyway, I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet… but someday I will be brave enough.

Posted on July 4, 2010 at 12:39 am by Lee · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: My Life, Social Network · Tagged with: , ,

LeBron James… Part 2

All I want to say at this point is I want LeBron James to stay in Cleveland. BUT it would really be fun to watch him play with Wade in Chicago or Miami. Every game would be like an All Star game.

Posted on July 3, 2010 at 11:34 pm by Lee · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: LeBron James, Sports · Tagged with: , , ,