Vietnam: First Observations

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(Prelude: Departure from Korea)

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.

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The Idea Exchange Rate

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.

Jesus Christ, A Link

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Gordon Flanders’ response to my last post is a god damn gem. Go on now, give it a motherfucking click. You can manage that, right? I mean, as far as I know clicks aren’t rationed, right?

Here’s the link again to make this proposition 100% easier for you.

Anyone's Ghost

Here’s the link:

http://conceitedcrusade.com/2016/03/15/reload-to-continue/

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.

Colton listens to podcasts…

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What The Fuck Do You Want From Me

Same Shit

 

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.

***

Deleted Thoughts:

-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.

***

This ran today over on the Crusade.

Huge Fucking Aliens

Damn,Gordon Flanders is back! You guys gotta dig this new short story he wrote about an alien invasion.

Conceited Crusade

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.

“Oh Jesus Christ!”…

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Personal Growth

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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 the ugly 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.

Grad School Decision

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.

 

Monster

GZ Kieft is making us look pretty good over on the Crusade. I really dig this new piece he put up this week:

Conceited Crusade

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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…

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