Sunday, September 6, 2009

Greetings from the CONUS

Hola, amigos. Yes, I'm still alive; I haven't had as much internet time as I'd like over the last few months, what with the police academy and everything.. and what little nerd-time I do have goes to skypin' with the Wife, Boo, and the new Bean that I still have yet to meet. I still miss them, but that pain usually fades to a dull roar that you just get used after awhile, until you see a toddler at the In-N-Out or you hold a friend's baby and you bawl like a baby.. but I digress.

Actually I guess I can't really digress because this is kind of just a ramble, right? I'm no wordsmith like Danielle over there, I just kind of throw words up there and we see what happens.

Sooo yeah, the academy. Hoo-boy. It's actually been really awesome. I mean it's been really tough and much harder than I could ever have imagined, but it's been good for me. I'm only about halfway through, but I've already learned so much, particularly about myself. If I had to a choose a single word, I'd say that it's been humbling.. and I am a man who needed some humbling. Heck I probably still do, but it's not as bitter as it was at first. And soon we get to start the fun stuff! You know, shootin' the guns and learning to drive the cars with the skidding and the spinning and the ramming of other cars. Up until now it's mostly been classes on law and probable cause and search & seizure and such; I'd never really appreciated just how complicated this job is.

Hey, I warned you. Rambletown, population: me. So hey, also, I'm in the best shape of my life, so that's another benefit of this experience. I'm down about 70 pounds from my chubbiest, which was about two years ago. I can run like a gazelle and scale 8 foot walls and oh hell I miss them.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Spawn/Life Update

Rachel's doing great; she's been on room oxygen for a few days and is now eating on her own. She's putting on weight and getting feisty; she wants outta that incubator. Too bad kid, you've got a few more weeks in there. Kim's doing well; she had her stitches out yesterday and is now back at home with Emily. She can drive and do everything except pick the kid up, so she will be taking showers with mommy for a few weeks instead of her normal baths.

As for me, I start the academy in two days. Large, angry men will be yelling at me for the next six months. Right now I'm feeling eagerness spiked with dread, if that makes any sense. I've sacrificed so much to get here, and now it's time to find out if I can live up to this.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Rachel is born!

Rachel Anna Forni decided that she was done with waiting, so she was born at 14:02 at Severance Hospital in Seoul. She is 32cm long, weighs 1.8 kilos, and is a bit premature at 32 weeks, but she's doing very well. Mother and baby are resting comfortably.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Korean Adventure: Second Season

Kim's still doing fine, and the baby is still hanging out in wombtown. Given the circumstances, we've decided to rescind her resignation, and her employer has tentatively agreed. They didn't want her to leave in the first place, and they're also aware that we weren't leaving because we didn't like Korea or the job.

So that's good news and bad news. Good news because it resolves the healthcare issue, saves us some money, and keeps her very secure job during a shaky economy. Bad news because I will not be able to see my family until December, at the earliest. It's already been five months, so I've kind of gotten used to it, I guess. Still sucks, but I don't see that we have much choice.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Korea retains her grip..

Life continues to be interesting, in the Chinese sense, for my family. At 31 weeks, Kim's water has broken, and she's now at Severance Hospital in Seodaemun-gu. They have her on antibiotics with the intention of trying to keep the baby in there for as long as possible. 31 weeks isn't the worst prognosis in the world for a premature birth, but of course the closer to term we can get, the better.

The timing on this really sucks. I start the Police Academy next week, so there is no time for me to fly out there. Since the wife just quit her job, I can't quit mine or even postpone it, because we need the income. She cannot come back to the US on our original schedule; she sure as hell can't fly in her condition, and once the kid is born she's going to need months before she can fly.

She's going to talk to her boss about retracting her resignation, which I think is about the only option we have; otherwise she's stuck in Korea without an official reason to be there. That plus I don't even want to know what my new job's health insurance would say about a situation like this.

Shit, I'm not going to be able to see them for almost nine more months! The academy is 26 weeks long, after which I start the field training program; using vacation time is absolutely out of the question during that entire period.

On a positive note, our friends hare really stepped up for us; they are taking care of Emily, and they're also covering Kim during her stay at the hospital (in a Korean hospital, family and friends are expected to help out). These people are our family now, as far as I'm concerned. Thanksgiving, Christmas, the whole bit; we can even argue politics if they want.



Friday, May 22, 2009

Car ownership in Seoul

Just posting this on the extremely off-chance that anyone actually wants to buy a car in Seoul; driving in Korea is definitely an.. interesting experience. Parking, even more so. Anyway, pictured is our 1997 Hyundai Sonata III, a spectacular bargain at $2000, or equivalent Won. Everything works and stuff, plus car maintenance (and insurance) in Korea is ridiculously cheap. If you're interested, lemme know. If not, I don't really blame you! :p


Monday, May 11, 2009

RE: The rest of my life

Uh, welp.. it turns out that I jumped the gun a bit on the whole "didn't score the cop gig" thing. It turns out that I did get selected, after all. I can't believe that I'm being given a second chance at my dream, and I hope that I will prove worthy of it. The academy starts in a few weeks, and I've got a lot to get done to prepare.

Kim and Emily are still in Seoul; she has put in her notice with her current employer and will be coming back to the US in June. Because of the timing, I will not be returning to Korea. I'm bummed that I won't get to see some of you guys again, but that's kind of the nature of expat friendships I guess. Depending on who you are, we may only have met once or twice, but you have all made an impression on me, and I will miss you. You are beautiful, fascinating people, and I am glad to have known you, however briefly. I also hope you'll look us up if you're ever in Las Vegas!

I only spent about 5 months in Korea, but in even that short time it grabbed a piece of me and didn't let go. It was my first expat experience, and even that brief time really opened my eyes to the vast diversity of the human condition. Living in a country like ours, it's easy for Americans like me to subconsciously assume that everyone's culture follows the Western model. If I had to pick just one country to prove that conceit wrong, well, Korea would be the place.

What a spectacular challenge to my preconceptions Korea turned out to be. Certainly there are cultures more foreign to the Western mindset, but I cannot think of any place that mixes Western culture with their own in such a unique way. There's just enough in there that's familiar to really throw you for a loop at what's emphatically not familiar.

I returned to the US with a new outlook on everything that I take for granted here, and I sincerely believe that everyone should live abroad if ever given the opportunity. The experience just gives you so much, makes you such a larger person. Of course we've all heard people say that, but you can't really understand it unless you've done it. Anyone reading this who has considered living abroad, whether in Korea or elsewhere: do it. Do it right now. It is an adventure that you will never, ever regret.

Korea is by no means an "easy" place for an expat, but if you meet and embrace that challenge you will come out of the experience with a spirit enriched in ways too numerous to mention. Korea will always be a part of me, and I will always be a part of her.



Monday, March 9, 2009

Return to K-World

Welp, it didn't work out. I always had mixed feelings about this move, anyway, so it's not really all that bad. On the downside, I don't get to do this cop thing that I'd been dreaming about for a long time.. but there's an upside as well. Being a copper is not exactly conducive to a good family life, and having already been through part of one police academy, I've already had a taste of that. The cops I've met here all thought I was crazy to give up semi-retirement in Korea to come back here and work a beat, but it was something that I had to at least try again.

Of course part of this is me just trying to feel better about not getting the job; I'm not really accustomed to failure, and I guess I feel the need to rationalize it. I can always take comfort in the fact that I got in once before, that I did meet that standard.. but now it's time to move on.

So I've got some final business to wrap up here in the States and then I'm back on a plane for K-World. I miss you guys, I miss my family; hell, I even miss Korea. Now if I can just find my T-money card..


Saturday, February 28, 2009

I miss my family

Coming up on month two back in the States; I'm several steps further along in the selection process here, so that's a good thing I suppose. If I sound ambivalent, it's because I am.. I miss my wife and daughter desperately. This is the longest I've ever been away from them, and it's complete torture. I honestly don't know how military families do this, sometimes for years.. if anything has ever taught me to appreciate the sacrifices they make, it's this experience.

Growing up I was never really that close to anyone; I won't say that my family was cold, but we are rather distant. I always saw that as a strength, but in later years I began to despair of ever really having a meaningful connection with anyone. When I met and married my wife, I knew that I loved her, but I was never really sure if it went beyond the rather vague feelings that I have for the rest of my people. It felt like more, but was it really?

When Emily was born, my universe exploded, and I had no more doubts on that score.. but I still never really appreciated just how critical those two people are to me, until I had to be away from them like this. I am literally heartsick, which is something I have never really experienced before. I do not care for it, and I almost find myself hoping that I will fail out of testing just so that I can fly home to them.

If I am successful in my current endeavor, it's going to be another three months before I get to hold them in my arms again. Good God this is torture.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Things I miss about Korea

So my day-to-day has been pretty uneventful back in Vegas; most of my days are spent at the gym, trying to make sure that I'm better prepared than I was last time. For some reason, today, I've been feeling a bit nostalgic for K-World. I may even seek out the local Koreatown; I can't find a Lotte Mart anywhere around here!

Stuff I miss about Korea:

cabbage kimchi
the subway (in Seoul anyway)
the whole "back to the 1950s" thing when it comes to children
Yongsan Electronics Market
What The Book in Itaewon
Fall (doesn't really happen here or in California; I hadn't seen one in years)

Of course there's stuff I don't miss, too, but that's all sepia-toned now that I'm back in the States. I miss you guys!


Friday, January 23, 2009

I left my soul in Seoul

OK so apparently people wanna know what the hell happened to me. Fair enough; I'm back in the US for a bit, taking one last shot at a longstanding dream. I dunno if this is the right thing for me, but I do know that I spent every day thinking about it during my time in Korea. It's unfinished business, and my soul demands that I square the bill. I've tried telling it that it's being unreasonable, but that's the thing about souls I guess. Can't tell them anything.

So we're gonna see what happens. If I get it, the family follows me back to the US. If I don't, then I follow them back to Korea. I can only hope that in such a case, having given it a shot will be enough to settle this ghost. The fact that I'm still here is what really tells me that I have to do this; anything that didn't have this much of a hold on me would not stand up to the overwhelming need to get on a plane this second and hold my wife and daughter in my arms again. Every time I see a toddler I want to scream; how do people do this? Christ I miss them.

I'm here, but my heart is 6000 miles away. Take care of it, eh, Seoul?


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