Some amusing shit has gone down in Vietnam. Ran into a Chinese guy in the hotel elevator who was picking up his Vietnamese mail-order bride. Didn’t even try to hide it; he told me that’s what she was. And also our scooter broke down last night so a local dude pushed us back to the hotel by riding behind me and periodically kicking my exhaust pipe. It’s a cheap-ass country but I’m blowing more scratch than I expected. I fall for dumb tourist traps, but I let myself fall into them because I have a soft spot for hustlers and poor people.
How it works on vacation is you have more time to brood. Being in a new place does nothing to change your thoughts. Travel is just another drug you do to forget about the shit in your life you haven’t figured out yet. Helps if you stack up the diversions: for example, being buzzed on a foreign street is nice. The shit I need to figure out what to do with my life because teaching, which is all I’m qualified to do. Well actually that’s not true: I’m qualified to write, but I’m a high-minded douche and will only write what’s real. The phrase “SEO friendly copy” makes me want to choke someone. As does the word copy, used in that context.
Basically I’m looking for something that doesn’t exist, which is a way to make stupid amounts of money by doing something that is not a regular job, and is also not something all eight billion people on Earth are already trying to do. This is the sole dilemma that underpins most of my frustration and insanity.
Realized today that I hadn’t yelled at anyone since I stopped teaching, I’ve just been cramming everything in. You can’t do that. It’s good to let it out, be a cunt. The budget airline we took to get here dicked us out of four hundred dollars and even though I know we didn’t have a shot in hell of getting the money back it felt good to call the customer service line and shout at people with accents for two hours. They’re not allowed to hang up on you but I stayed on the line until they did. Worth all four hundred dollars. I’ll do it again. Because I have a soft spot for all hustlers and poor people, except for those who work in call centers.
Ideally I could be Fred Colton all the time. Damn, that guy can talk, every line on his site is laced with charisma… But he only exists online, Fred is not real. Out in the real world it’s just me, contributing nothing of value to any given situation, wearing some boring pants like khakis as I suck the energy out of the room.
It doesn’t make sense. I write at night, hit publish and then my brain just burns up all the material. Wake up in the morning with an empty head, struggle to come up with interesting, compelling shit to say. It usually doesn’t work out, usually I drive my conversations off a cliff. Everything else in the world, you get better at it the more you do it. Everything but talking. Start life awkward and you’ll finish it that way.
I want to break cover and put the blog on my Facebook. But then I’d never get hired anywhere. Still, it would be fun to say: look at this secret life I have. One time I wrote a thing that got 60 WordPress likes. I’m boring in real life but I’m hot shit in a fake world, is what I’m saying. Why aren’t you wet yet.
Vietnam is my afterlife. No work, just sleeping late on this cloud of a hotel bed. Easy flow when I’m awake. Riding around all day, nodding at the embassy guards with their Russian AKs probably left over from the Tet offensive. Beer with the woman on the street at night as we avoid conversation with other foreigners. Small talk is work and I’m not into work these days. I’m just into deep tissue massages, the Viet coffee with condensed milk, the hotel lobby guy handing over my bag of pressed laundry. The hotel life is a sweet one. I’d kill to sustain it. Until now I’ve always been a serf jamming into a hostel with eighty other people. Well, never again. From now on it’s the hotel or the gutter. Because while money doesn’t buy happiness it does buy you people in uniforms who have to pretend not to hate you and what your ancestors did. Call down to the guy at the desk, and he makes shit happen. The good life; I now understand why rich people are demons. Why they nickel and dime, why they fuck the peasants with 40 dollar overdraft fees. Sure, 20 dollars would get the point across, make a punishing point, but 40 is definitely better. Fuck, let’s raise it to 80. Funnel the scratch upward, let me stack it.
With money at an all-time high and responsibilities at an all-time low, I’m supposed to be writing. At night when I get around to it my eyes are heavy. Background music is YouTube grinding through Top 40 on autoplay. It’s poisoning my head and I should change it but typing a good song into the search bar would be too much work.
This move should have hit me with more of a jolt. But so far, no inspiration. This place is still too new, can’t really write about it yet because I haven’t found the angle on it yet. And I’m not going to get it in this hotel, either. Oh well. I’ll give a fuck about that, and everything else, later on.
Friday morning I woke up rich. Severance pay from my Korean job was more money than I’ve ever seen in my life. Not enough though. They should have paid me more for the hundreds of hours of trench warfare I’ve waged against my students’ stupidity.
Money, man. It makes me feel stupid because I don’t know how to invest it. And when I have a surplus I panic, get some sort of survivor’s guilt, obsess about how it could all go away. The default human existence is a hardscrabble one and I feel like having money is cheating the rules, that this is a glitch that can’t last. I feel like the rich people are going to discover that I’m out of my cage and lock me back up.
Before leaving I compressed my existence into one duffel bag like a goddamn Buddhist. Threw everything away: jackets and bedding and everything in the kitchen and my stack of old notebooks full of bad writing. The old ladies with the carts scavenged it all off the curb. Then I drank in Seoul all afternoon with those we’re leaving behind, then spent a night in a hotel on the airport island. I was trying to process all these emotions, this whole bittersweet crush of them. Vietnam in the morning.
Of course there was one last crisis at the airport. Some kind of glitch on the airline reservation site so we had to pay the price of an iPhone just to check in. Koreans never budge, can’t budge. Keep making a fucking X with their arms when you’re trying to work it out with them. Most stubborn bitches on the planet. Got to the airport bittersweet, left it bitter.
The great departure ended up being an anticlimax. I needed some dopamine, Facebook likes to help mark the moment. Was going to do a status about the end of my two years in Korea but I couldn’t think of a humorous enough take on it. So I just got on the plane. Had another fight with the girlfriend as we took off. Made up in the air over China and landed in Hanoi. Her grandmother is from here, used a fake ID to get out back when it was war war war all the time.
Our hotel is by the museum that celebrates the curbstomping North Vietnam gave the US Military. Tonight I did my sprints in front of the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum. The guards eyeing me wore the same green uniforms as the Russians in Goldeneye. Sucking in the smog made me nauseous. Running at all over here is a ridiculous prospect. No traffic lights whatsoever so every intersection is a Mad Max situation. I’m told that getting hit is a certainty; the only question is how hard.
The first night here food and beer and taxis for three of us came out to $27 USD. Each purchase feels inconsequential, like you’re just putting down Monopoly money. Even after Bank of America takes its pound of flesh in wire transfer fees it will take me a coon’s age to burn through all my money here.
Hanoi is cheap, and because of some open sewer pipes it smells like shit. And also hot rubber and fish oil. Same as in Thailand or rural China. There are scooters everywhere, backpackers fat off the road life of all beer and no gym, chickens in the alleys, miserable sixty year-old white couples in pedicabs scowling like Emperor Nero. No subway, which is weird for a capital city. No one has any money; everyone’s teeth look like pieces of broken plates jammed into their gums.
The government and cops are bent but name a country where they’re not. Wherever in the world you go, it’s just people being people. No difference except how you get by, how much you can get away with. It’s poor here but it’s not the Cuban Communist hell all those young boys died trying to save us from. People drive around and use phones and drink. The night market has lights and live music. It’s just another city.
Now I have to get a job and make friends, which are the two things in the world I least want to do right now. I just want to take a nap; having escaped the stress of Korea I feel like I survived a war. There’s Heineken in the fridge so I’ll pour some out for my brothers left behind, then wake up and find a motorbike and see how long I last in the death race out there on the streets.
Another day, another crisis. Need insights. I’m too cheap for therapy, too vain to drink, but there’s always the horoscope. Half of it is off target but the other half could be my Wikipedia page.
The Scorpio doesn’t like to let people know more than they need to about him. He keeps his secrets guarded and people who do not know him well may think that he is perfect, although even Scorpios have flaws of their own.
Well yeah, I’m guarded and scripted so people don’t find out about my past life. I hide it like I’m in witness protection. Like the fact that Mom homeschooled me for two years and I didn’t get to download all the social interaction programs that the kids on the playground did. She might as well have exiled me to 1885. Try re-entering public school after that; you’ll burn up in the atmosphere. Now I think: if this person talks to me for more than ten minutes, they’ll find out I’m weird. They’ll make an obscure mid-90s Nickelodeon reference and I’ll give them a quizzical look and it’s over.
Partners are usually first attracted to the Scorpio’s tough exterior, but later they fall for the softness of what he is really like on the inside.
I fucking hope so. I had no brothers and a quiet dad, toughness is not in me. The toughness is all method acting. Soft is all I got and it drives me crazy. It had me Googling Army recruiters, thinking maybe that was my path to masculinity. Thank God Dick Cheney was there to scare me away.
He is more likely to please his partner in the bedroom, as a way of keeping his ego high.
Horoscope’s words, not mine. Although to be fair I did last a mere two minutes last Friday but that was because I’m a wrinkly 28 now and was trying to do it after 12 on a school night. Up past my bedtime.
Once a Scorpio man falls in love with his partner he will be more gentle and caring around them. This can lead to an overall loving relationship.
Overall, yes. Barring spats. Which are inevitable. What happens with a fight is that everything makes brilliant sense in your head until you talk to your woman. Then you’re proven stupid. There should be no male lawyers at all, anywhere. No need, no reason for the economy to bear the compounded weight of all their law school debt when you can just draft women off the street and put them in court.
Was going to write something today, but we’re arguing. Stress short-circuits the whole process.
The Scorpio tends to ignore the minor details in life.
Details, housekeeping, errands, anything that is not coffee or fucking or laughter: they make me want to crawl into a wood chipper. But baby, it’s not that I don’t care. I’m not forgetting shit because I’m evil. It’s because I’m half-oblivious. That’s the mold I came from, that’s my OS. If I could get an update, I would.
The Scorpio wants to reach high places in his lifetime. He may have a goal from when he was young that he is still working on in his old age.
Been writing since I was seven and twenty-one years later I’ve achieved a readership of thirty. I know my blog says I have 5,000 followers but that figure’s a relic. Those are all ghost blogs that were abandoned in February 2015. Thirty people read my shit; it used to be hundreds. It’s a counter-intuitive but true fact that more people read me back when I was a worse writer. That’s how the universe works: the thing you don’t expect is the thing that happens. 2,200 on Twitter; who gives a fuck. Twitter is just takers, writers selling to other writers.
I’m a fraud, I have no reach, my co-sign is worth nothing. But what else is there to do. Do you quietly cultivate an insane level of talent that no one will ever witness, or do you make some fucking Vines.
The Scorpio won’t let his dreams die. The Scorpio is extremely ambitious, so no one should expect his goals to be minor.
But then again, shit, this is 2016, thirty readers is good. Thirty readers is a major ambition for anyone not on the staff of Entertainment Weekly. I got that, so fuck Vines.
The Scorpio can be narrow-minded about what he learns. He is stubborn in what he knows, and he will stick to his beliefs even if he is proven wrong.
Last night we drank and Jono did my tarot reading. My question was: can I change. Because even though by the time people get to my age they’re pretty much galvanized, I do need to change. I need to think and act and function on an entirely different level than I do now.
He said the chances of that aren’t good. Something he apparently deduced from the pentagram symbol. And I said: that’s pretty Calvinist, that’s not what I wanted to hear. So thank God these are just some cards, and their meanings are just some bullshit you learned so you could fuck girls at your place while drinking wine. And you know, even though no one has ever woken up in the morning as a different and better person, I still sort of believe that one day it will happen to me.
When I was a kid all I wanted was to grow up to be an attractive man with money and a beautiful woman and friends in foreign cities to get drunk with. I got it all and of-fucking-course it’s not enough. Now I have this rabid lust to also be the most interesting and hilarious man in the world; any outcome besides that makes me a failure. My mind works as such: I make you laugh, and then hate myself for not making you laugh twice. I should get back into therapy.
Saturday was the last Big Night Out in Seoul. Rooftop drinking, good crowd. I knew the next-day photos were gonna be good for a combined gross of probably a thousand Facebook likes. It was my own goodbye party but I like being late to shit so I went out and spent 45 minutes buying wine before dipping back. It was fun, but then even if the party is rolling smooth some shit’s still gonna go sideways. Someone’s gonna get drunk too early. A night can never just be a night. There’s always drama, there’s always someone being a cunt. At least this time it wasn’t me. When I was a kid I thought we’d all grow up to act like stately motherfuckers. In reality we stay the same forever, we just get larger and taller, get old enough to drink and fuck.
Woke up the next day at 11:45. When I was a kid all I ever wanted was to sleep in on Sunday morning instead of going to church. Nowadays I just wake up feeling guilty I slept too much. And even if I’m not hungover, drinking still makes me feel old, sore, broke, and fat. I was hungover this time, but only emotionally, due the all the goodbyes.
Still got one last week of work to gut through before the bliss of unemployment. It’s Monday. Got my expectations sufficiently lowered, vat of coffee brewed. Work, man. It would be cool to just not have to go, like a senator. Hey, I’m gonna be gone for a year, but keep paying me. When I was a kid all I ever wanted was to grow up and have a good job. Why. Why do we teach kids to want jobs; I think that’s sick. A job is something that kills you, something you have to have because the capitalist worldview won out. When I was a kid I also desperately wanted enough money to buy some Pogs, and to see that movie Jumanji. I was an idiot back then, and nothing has changed.
is really poor. Your thoughts are of highest value when they’re inside your head. Transfer them out and they’re only worth a fraction. Most people don’t know this so they just put it all out there anyway and do it proudly. I at least have the decency to hate myself for being as boring as everyone else. That’s why most communication is shit. Inane fluff presented as something novel. If you have tits you can get away with this. But only if they’re young tits.
Check it out. I was going to comment, but I had too much to say, so I’m pulling a Seth Godin move and I’m going to respond on my own blog.
Colton complains that he has nothing new to say and yet he still has to post, so maybe he’ll just talk about what he’s doing right now. Ha! That’s what I do almost every single damn time. I don’t even know why I feel compelled to write shit since I recently proved that I can forget all about commitments to other people real fast. Probably because proving I’m a genius in a world where no one has to listen to you is really tough and if you’re writing something on a blog and people see it every day you can at least fool yourself into thinking that you are proving something.
Special needs kid on the bus stop bench, probably fifteen years old. A couple his age is making out and he stares at them like a chimp who wants to rip their faces off. You can’t even process puberty if you’re normal; what chance does he have.
I always walk this route so I’ve seen this exact thing before, and have blogged about it before. Same goes for everything I’ve ever written. I’ve rephrased the same three thoughts six hundred times like a god damn rapper. Can’t wait to move to Vietnam next week. I owe it to my fucking readers to get off this block and see some new shit. Giant planet where every single second a trillion insane things are happening, and I’m over here doing Groundhog Day, trying to milk a dry tit. This country is a void of inspiration. I hereby retire from writing about Korea. If you miss that vicarious shit, read Expat Hell. I tried to copy him when I first got here and it didn’t work.
Even though I have nothing new to say, I do still have to write and post something today. Group blog commitment. Continue to prove I’m a genius. So what do I got. Maybe I’ll just talk about what I’m doing right now: well I’ve just procured my coffee and am now walking on to the office. Listening to a business podcast by a millionaire because I think it will make me smarter. It won’t. I’ll just keep doing the same dumb shit. Jizz away all my productivity onto this blog while silently banking on a little inheritance somewhere down the line. Mom and Dad are broke but the grandparents aren’t. I’m white; I’ll get something… Fred, stop it. You’ve said all this already. You have nothing new to say… no, wait. I did have one hot insight when I woke up:
I believe everyone else in the world is better than me, but also that I am better than everyone else.
But I don’t know what to do with it, so you can have it. My attention is fractured. I’m trying to negotiate an international move and plan the goodbye party all while holding down forty-five cocksucking hours a week at work. The extra stress makes it feel like someone stuck a 9mm in my ear and pulled the trigger. Can’t latch onto a thought, can’t be fucked with good blogging. If you want subpar blogging, though, keep it locked right here. I’m both a better and worse writer than you are, so take what you need from me, whether that be inspiration or superiority.
-Re: blogging. These days I’m back into writing fiction and it’s kind of god damn good, but I can’t post it because you fuckers are ironically repelled by fiction. Somehow a fiction post on a blog attracts negative page views. It’s rejected if it’s not a first person deconstruction of my Feelings or what I had for breakfast. Well: banana and green tea.
-I was gonna say this up there when I was talking about that podcast: I am sick of rebooting myself and trying new things, thinking they will make me better, only to continually snap back into my natural mold. But I’ll stay stuck in this loop anyway because there’s no other option. But that was too long and I didn’t feel like rewording it. Free thought: fuck with it if you want.
-Also re: podcast — If I were a millionaire I’d launch a podcast with purposefully bad advice. That’s probably what they all do. Fuck over the competition before they can become competition. Good play. When I become King of the Internet I plan on giving you heaps of bad writing advice.
Juan was a man of business who wore a midnight blue Brooks Brothers suit and had his initials stitched into the cuffs of his shirt.
Juan was prepared for a lot of things; out of the way things even. Climate change, the uprising of the lower classes, Juan was even prepared for a global epidemic. He took Krav Maga classes and he did Crossfit. Zombies didn’t worry him. Juan was comfortable with serving sentient robots in almost any capacity. He was prepared for his own death.
Juan was prepared for almost anything, but he had pretty much ruled out weird as fuck, enormous aliens, which was a real shame because before any of those things happened, those things that Juan was prepared to be so smug about being prepared for, some weird ass fucking aliens just came out of the sky and started chasing people around willy fucking nilly.
Now presenting the Fred Colton Diet and Workout Regimen. This is how I became the fittest person out of my group of alcoholic friends who never work out. It’s a low bar, but someone’s got to clear it. *
Don’t diet. Maybe eat a little more protein, but for God’s sake don’t deprive yourself of a goddamn thing. You’re in the first world; fucking enjoy it. Treat every meal like a banquet with Julius Caesar. And don’t forget that beer and French toast are life requirements. But you gotta compensate for all that shit by doing the…
4 mile run
60 min. lift: (chest/shoulders/triceps)
HIIT bike sprint workout (100% effort for 45 seconds, 1 min recovery, repeat 8-10 times)**
60 min. lift: (biceps/back) ***
Sprints (8×100 meters @ max effort, 20 pushups immediately before each rep)****
Abs (crunches, military-style leg lifts)
High-grade hill sprints (6x80m, 20 pushups immediately before each sprint)
60 min. lift (chest/shoulders/triceps )++
Squat jump HIIT workout (7 sets of 15-20 jumps, with 15-20 pushups immediately before each set)
60 min. lift (biceps/back)
Stair sprints (7 sets of 11 stories, 15-20 pushups immediately before each sprint)+++
Back to the gym++++ for abs (crunches, military-style leg lifts)
4 mile run.
Repeat ad nauseum.
*Well actually my friend Peter does work out I guess, because he’s a male stripper and has ten abs. But he’s also a little bit ugly, so he kind of has to have ten abs.
**You have to sprint. Distance runs don’t really burn fat. This is true. Proof that we live in a universe that makes no sense.
***Working out is all well and good until you become endorphin-dependent and the highs disappear and you need 90 minutes of boot camp hell just to feel normal. Or, if you wake up feeling extra-shitty, you need a workout just to feel merely a regular amount of shitty. Exercise can become a drug that’s not even fun while you’re doing it.
****All of this is going to get your testosterone cranking through the roof. That’s a bad thing. You turn into some kind of ogre. It will scare your girlfriend. I’m no longer capable of empathy and I can’t cry anymore.
+I rest on Wednesday because you should try to take one day off a week, but I find it hard to rest on the traditional day of rest, Sunday. A Sunday workout torches the Saturday night beer calories and makes me less anxious for Monday.
++By this point in the regimen you’re realizing that this shit is unsustainable, and eventually you’re gonna get old and wear out and you’ll have to fall back on personality and social skills instead of physical attributes to get through life, which leads to the experience of having existential agony on top of your physical agony.
+++So, all of this is pretty much a waste of time. Ten hours of misery a week just to win the occasional arm wrestling bout. Ten hours of agony just so my girlfriend can complain that my arms are too big and worry about other girls checking me out.
++++My gym is cool. Grungy place, two steps above a prison yard. A real Started From The Bottom feel. A clientele of mostly 60 year-old Koreans who look 40. New life goal. Not the Korean part.
They play uncensored hip-hop between classes at my elementary school for English immersion. 2 Chainz announces that he has “sold out arenas/you can suck my penis” and the Korean kids are starting to rap along. That’s all they can say in English. They sure as hell can’t tell me their names. A new teacher just arrived. Says the students here are the worst she’s seen in ten years of teaching; how have I handled it. Well it’s been pretty hard, and the Confucian labor laws just compound everything. The Korean public school system produces the Navy SEALs of educators. I’m so good at my job now that I could teach chimps how to assemble rockets. Any worthwhile/employable skill, you gotta go through shit to attain it.
Now that I have that it’s time to go. Two years here, and I know I PMSed about the state of things here a lot but don’t listen to me — my time was actually good. Pleasant really, because I wasn’t back in America temping. Not being in America is like not being on fire. A nice persistent buzz. I got paid a little bit, had time enough to write a book, learn guitar. And to get in shape and get good enough with girls to stop dating theugly ones the wrong ones. Everything I did here took sustained effort but it was all external and won’t last. It was just flashy shit. I’m still the same guy after all of it. So now what. Now I’m faced with the annoying prospect of looking inward and appraising my list of character defects. What a hassle; this is going to take the rest of my life. I’m not going to start tonight. Tonight is for drinking, and trying to keep the nostalgia from reaching toxic levels.
Now that I’m old enough to use eye cream I know what I should do. The party is over; I should be in grad school. Seems worth it. Loan with a $20,000 principal just for cocktail party cred and nods from careerist jackoffs. Just to make slightly more money teaching than I do now. Worth it, entering the educational arms race where within 5 years I’ll just have to level up to a Ph. D., all for the benefit of achieving the next tax bracket. I’d rather grab a mallet and play whack-a-mole with my nuts.
So no. There’s other ways to do it. Just don’t know what they are yet. Hmm. I have T-3 weeks left in Korea. Not going home to America, nothing for me there except probably working at a call center. Just gonna commit career suicide and slink straight over to Vietnam like a fugitive. And then I’ll… I’ll do something. Anything. I’ll be a tour guide or fuck around with penny stocks. Push a pedicab. I’ll be fine; in Vietnam you pay 1950s prices for everything. Even if I go broke I’ll still be white. And being a drifter is charming when you’re white. Anyway, I have a BA and no debt and I also happen to be the greatest writer the world has ever seen; that should be enough. Maybe it will be. There’s always the chance that we’ll wake up tomorrow in a world where WordPress is more popular than Instagram. Always a chance. I’m gonna be real good at investing.
Gio woke up in an empty piano bar but the sounds of Gaspard de la nuit still rang in his ears alongside the horrible aftermath of a pleasant buzz. He groaned and leaned forward over the table with his right hand over his forehead.
The room was black. Lines of sunlight peeked past the thick, velvet, red curtains draped across eight rounded windows, each large like the arches of a church. Little café tables littered the room until they stopped at a stage where a quiet black Grand piano watched over like the statue of an old Chinese tiānzǐ. In the corner of the room, a man in a penguin suit stood equally still, his eyes the loudest thing about him.
From across the way, a chair scooted back and the sound echoed like gravel against the melodies that ghosted the place. Gio had stood up, although he still…