The Next Level

I’ve finally reached the next level as a musician. I’ve been invited to perform a gig.

It’s now been about 5 years since I started writing music and performing open mics. Over the course of the last 5 years, I’ve performed at open mics in about 8 different cities, 1 national park,  and 1 foreign country. Seoul is the biggest city I’ve performed in, and while I’ve been here I’ve played at 3 different venues.

Last weekend, I performed at a monthly open mic in Itaewon. Afterwards one of the other performers came up and complimented my first song. He said the chorus really touched him. I appreciated the affirmation, because it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve written so far. Have a listen here.

He recently opened up a bar in Itaewon and said he’s planning to have some music nights, and invited me to perform. I told him thanks, but I’m leaving next month. He said, he’s planning to have one in July and to email him to get in touch. As I left the bar, the bartender also complimented me and invited me to come back and book a show sometime.  2 invitations to have a gig in one night!

I’ve never had  a gig before, and partly it was because I never felt ready to. Writing music has always been a hobby and a therapeutic outlet for my emotions, so I’ve never felt the need to put myself out there beyond open mics. However, I feel like I’ve reached the point where I feel proud of enough of my songs that I would feel confident to play a whole set. So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll have my first gig before I leave this country.

Even if it doesn’t work out, it’s nice to know that I’ve reached the next level and I  actually feel confident enough about my own talent to feel like I deserve to be here.

Quitting the Year of Quitting

Well it’s been a good run. I’ve learned a lot. But now it’s time to end the Year Of Quitting and Unplanning Project. I might write more about what I’ve learned later. But right now I don’t feel like it.

Part of the point was to get rid of some of the things that don’t serve me to make space for the things that do and discern which things I really want to keep in my life. I’ve minimized my activities to the point where it’s time to start adding things back in. So that’s what I’m focusing on for now and for the rest of the year as I transition to a new phase of my life.

Quitting YouTube

This month’s YOQ task is quitting YouTube.

I’d been doing a lot of youtube binging the last few months which was interrupting my sleep routine. So this month I blocked it on all my browsers. So far it seems to be helping  me to get back on track. Although, to be honest,  I think the trip to the tea festival made the biggest dent in whipping me into some sort of routine.

The nice thing is I have more time freed up for blogging which I’ve been doing more of this month. I am starting to collect blogs like I collect notebooks.

I have this tendency to compartmentalize. I like to have separate notebooks for separate things. One notebook is just for my dreams, another is for my morning pages, another is for my therapy sessions, etc.

Now I have a handful of blogs on various platforms. I’ve got my photo blog, and my poetry blog, and this one where I blog about the year of quitting and the unplanning project, and a handful of others.

I guess May will just be the month of blogging.


It’s Depression Awareness Week and there’s an awesome hashtag trending on twitter to shed light on the conversation surrounding depression.

So here’s my too long for twitter #WhatYouDontSee inspired slam poem


The floodgates
holding back the reservoir of tears
in the corners of my eyes.

Flimsy levies
which burst open
when I walk down the stairs
to take out the trash,
when I hit the bike trail
to finally do that exercise
they tell me will release endorphins,
when I leave our lunch
after shaking your hand good bye,
when I sit there on my yoga mat
with my mind screaming,
as I listen to my teacher
drone on and on
about how depressed people can
just choose
how they feel.

The dirty dishes
that pile up in my sink
and on my countertops,
sitting there for days,
which mound up like Mount Everest,
standing between me and my dinner.
I can’t cook
until my dishes are clean
and I can’t clean
until I stop staring at the youtube videos
floating across my screen.

The crumpled wads
of foil kimbab wrappers
from every time I never managed to scale Mount Everest,
and every time I finally managed
to climb half way up,
only to run out of time
to prepare a decent meal,
and was forced to retreat
to the kimbap heaven
around the corner.

The guilt
from knowing I pushed away
the people I love most
and that I wasn’t there
when they needed me.

The time I spend lying on my floor
in a puddle of tears-
turn into hours
turn into days
turn into weeks.

The countless number of times
I gave myself permission
to be sad and unproductive
this week-
until this week turned into 2 weeks,
turned into 2 months,
turned into today,
over and over again,
like I’m the main character
in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

What you don’t see
are the lies in my head
that tell me

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Don’t Let The Rain Stop You

One day last summer it rained.  On that particular day, I didn’t have an umbrella, so I walked home without one. That may have been the first time I didn’t even mind getting wet. As the rain drops kept falling on my head, I kept picturing that meme that had been circulating the internet: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” I raised up my hands to the sky and smiled.

I once spent a summer in Kodiak, Alaska. Kodiak is a small island where is rains almost everyday. The first weekend I was there, my friend S and I were planning climb one of the taller mountains on the island. While sitting in the car eating a jalapeño cheese bagel topped with avocado and veggie cream cheese, I asked S whether we should skip the hike due to the rain.

He told me, “You can’t let the rain stop you. It’s always raining in Kodiak. So if you want to do anything, you have to learn to do things in the rain.”

We finished our breakfast bagels and then we climbed a mountain. It was difficult, I was the slowest one, and the clouds at the top blocked the view.  But I will always remember eating the most amazing bagel of my life at the summit. The bagels I had eaten at the bottom of the mountain and at the top of the mountain were exactly the same, except for one thing. The one at the top had one extra ingredient: overcoming fear.

Mount Pyramid was the first of many hikes that summer. It was also the best one, simply because I didn’t let the rain stop me.

Note to self: You can’t let the rain stop you. Go out and dance in it.

Unplanning Abundance

This month’s #unplanning task is not planning where my money is going to come from. For the last 7 months I’ve been coasting quite cushily on savings. Now it’s time to get back to the daily grind and make some dough. I already have a few part time jobs lined up, but I don’t have a complete idea of where all my money is going to be coming from. I’m trying not to worry about it though because I’m trusting in the idea of abundance.

One of my core desired feelings for the year is abundance. (I’ll have to write more about core desired feelings in a future post.) Basically abundance is the idea that there is more than enough out there. More than enough money. More than enough opportunities. More than enough job prospects. More than enough love. More than enough time. More than enough.

So when I go through my day, I try to remind myself to live from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. For example, when I’m trying to keep to my budget, sometimes I get to the end of the week and think I can’t spend a single won more on fruit or snacks, etc. But sometimes I just need to splurge on some bananas for myself. I remind myself in those times that I do have enough. And I deserve a banana, dammit. (Yes, these are the types of conversations I really have with myself in my head.)

Abundance is closely tied to the idea of synchronicity. Synchronicity is the idea that there is a force in the universe out there pulling the strings for you in your favor. Synchronicity is how I landed 3 of my recent part time jobs.

One day I ran into some members from my meditation group having a chat downstairs after meditation. We got to talking, and one of them mentioned they were looking for someone to tutor a nun. I was looking for a job at the time and voila- the first part time job was hand delivered to me via synchroncity. Through that nun I recieved two other tutoring jobs. And who knows, maybe through those people I’ll land a few more.

My other core desired feeling is trust. So I’m trusting in synchronicity to supply me with the right amount of abundance to get me through the month, and the next few months, before I head off to grad school. Did I mention on this blog yet that I got accepted into grad school? Well, if I didn’t, now I have.

I’ll be leaving Korea at the end of July and heading to Ohio University in August to study photojournalism. Super excited! Oh, and there’s another example of abundance in action. I was told I will be eligible for some grants to help pay for tuition. So yay for abundance! Keep it coming universe.


Bike Pilgrimage Day 1: Good bye home

Tuesday, November  10, 2015

I’m on the train to Jochiwon to start my pilgrimage. Riding the trains is one of my favorite parts of Korea. I’m sitting on the floor in the snack car comforted by the strangers taking naps around me. I used to make this trip back and forth every week for a year. I reminisce about that regular journey. I always enjoyed the quiet time to journal and stare out the window.


I stare out the window and look at the country side. It’s fall and the leaves are bright, fiery colors. I’m excited for this trip that I didn’t think was going to even happen. I thought I’d have to push it back to the Spring due to the cold. But decided at the last minute, why wait? Why not practice a little austerity and pack a good jacket to keep me warm. If I can hike in the cold, I can bike in the cold. So here I am.


When I arrive in Jochiwon I realize this is the last time I’ll be “coming home.” After I officially ride off on my bike, I will have officially moved out mentally as well. From now on I’ll be coming back as a visitor rather than a resident.


As I walk down the street I can’t help but admire all the fall trees and think about how beautiful this place is. In my head I whisper good bye to everything. Good bye train station. Good bye steps that I used to walk up everyday to and from the bus stop. Good buy Ook-il apartments. Good bye Paris Baguette where I had my first Korean lessons. Good bye Ediya, Angel-in-us, Twosome Place where I had many chats over coffee.



I arrive at my apartment and retrieve my bike which I’ve kept stored in the stair well. The first thing I check for is the map I think I’ve left in the bike bag. It’s not there. I guess I hadn’t looked hard enough for it in my apartment. I’ve already committed to not using data on this trip and was planning to rely on the paper map.

After the initial shock of finding it gone, I realize this is even more apt for a pilgrimage. No map at all. Just follow the roads and trust that they will lead me home. I know from experience that there are plenty of maps and signs along the trails. I just need to remember one of the most important rules of biking: Always follow the signs.

I stop by the bike shop to buy a bike pump. The one I had gotten for cheap didn’t actually work. I tell the bike shop guy about my trip and he gives me his phone number in case I get into any trouble on the trail and need some help. He’s always helped me care for my bike,  pumping up flat tires and installing new accessories. He even taught me correct bike posture when I bought my first real bike from him earlier in the Spring. I’m grateful for my gentle bike guide.


He wishes me well and poses for a picture before I depart. Good bye bike guy.

I ride over to Obongsan one last time to fill up my water bottle in the communal well. Just below the mountain you can stock up on Spring water.

I remember the first time I ever tasted the water. Some friends and I were roasting pumpkin seeds and making persimmon cookies in my apartment. A had brought the water. We were all commenting on how delicious it was.

“Where did you buy this water?” I asked.

“I didn’t. I got it from Obongsan,” A replied. “I head there ever Sunday to fill up my free water.”

And that’s how I was introduced to the best water in town. It’s a secret all the locals know about. On any given day, if you arrive at the well you can watch ajummas and ajushis filling up multiple empty bottles with delicious water which they have lugged over in the basket on their bike or in the back of their truck. When I return to America, filling up on spring water will be one of the things I miss most.


I fill up my water bottles and ride off. Good bye Obongsan.

I sit on the curb in front of the apartment that has been my home for the last 3 years. I eat my banana and picture all the bike memories that have played out on this street. Circling M in an assassination attempt during assassins, riding to school in the early mornings  with B, attempting to teach A to ride a bike, that time S stored his bike in my lobby, starting out on our first and second bike trips in the fall.


The movie of memories playing out in front of me comes to an end. I finish my banana, pack up and ride off. Good bye home.