Gratitude and Celebrations

This is what happens when other people try to take a picture of me with my camera. 

I think my camera doesn't like them and sabotages the photos.

Notice that I said "I think" and that all my thoughts could begin with the phrase "I think", but that inherent within each thought is the contradiction of whether I know the statement is true.

What is he talking about? 

No worries. Let's move along, shall we? 

So Gee and I got to witness an egagement in the making as Jen and Andy tied the knot. Here we are in Tiffany's. They gave us orange juice in paper cups to taost the event. I am not sure why.

Here was my advice to the lovebirds:

"Isn't life easy? You just do it," I say.

"We need a house and wedding and so many other things though," Jen says.

"That's easy. You're in Korea. They have wedding banquet halls working like a McDonald's Drive-thru. Just have a big wedding, invite lots of friends to get lots of money, get money from your parents, put key money down on a house, make babies, and die."

"Sounds easy."

"I told you."
So Gee helped them pick their rings. I also hear that Andy got down on one knee for the occasion. This is a big thing to Korean women. If a man does this, he's a keeper. 

I also think Andy is pretty cool because he was emcee for a popular hip-hop group in Korea, but he doesn't tell anybody, but rips it up when it is time at a Karaoke bar. 

I went to a couple Thanksgiving parties this week. One was located near Itaehwon and these rows upon rows of kim chi pots. I had to get a picture of their immensity. I like taking pictures of things when there is a lot of them. 

Then I took a picture of So Gee. She paused for a moment to admire the kim chi pots, then hopped into a cab before I could even put my camera away.

That's okay. I looked at pics from earlier in the night as I walked down the street to Samgakji.

Here is Sharif. He challenged me to games on the Nintendo Wii. I was up for the challenge. 

"I am in control," Sharif said, as he selected the VS. mode on Mario Kart. "I am the control."

"That's good," I said.

"You are about to lose badly," he said.

"Okay," I said.

"I am in control and you will lose. I am just telling you. This is the way it is. I am in control. You will lose. I am just letting you know."

"I just won the last race."

"I am telling you now."

The race ends. I come in second. Steve comes in first place. Sharif places ninth.

"You lost," I said. 

"Something is wrong," Sharif shouts and points at Steve. "He is doing TV interference. He is doing something. I have not figured it out, but there is something happening. He has some trick."

Steve and I are laughing. We cheers to ourselves from the paper cups of Bombay Sapphire and tonic.

"First," I say to Steve.

"Second," he says to me.

We both look at Sharif. Then we raise our glasses in unison. "Ninth!" we laugh.

"No!" Sharif shouts. "He is doing some kind of trick. This can't be happening. I am in control. I am the first. I should have won. This can't be happening."

"Okay," I say. "Let's play again."

We play for about an hour more. Sharif never gets above fourth. It is a pleasant time to be one with a video game.

Here are David and Steve. They are about to play Family Feud and get rowdy. I did not participate. I just kept playing the Nintendo Wii. I liked it too much. In fact, I would even buy it if I had time to play it, and it wasn't so outrageously expensive.

Earlier in the week, my students and I worked on their final projects for the semester. Lydia, Jin San, and Jyu Ree (above) are in Team Kripsy Kremes. They have already filmed their documentary of two different food locations and conducted a survey with their talent and the patrons. Who knows? It might be a fun thing to watch. We'll see.

Here is the coup de grace. I think they are a very becoming couple. I wish them lots of happiness, warm nights, and love. 

10,000 hours = Magic Number to be an Expert at Anything

There are so many folks who say that athletes are made-up of a certain genetic predisposition, or that Mozart was a unique diamond-in-the-rough. But is that true? According to Malcom Gladwell's essay, Outliers, mastery of anything - whether it's the Beatles in music or Bill Gates in the computer world - takes 10,000 hours of practice. The only requirement for the individual is to find the money to create time for practice, have a strong desire to commit to the work, and practice, practice, practice until they achieve success. 

I have been looking at the many art forms I have participated in to tally how much more work I need to do to become an expert at my passions. The results are quite interesting.

1. Comic Book Drawing: 2005-2007 (10 hours/wk) = 1,040 hours

2. Painting: 1996-1998 (15 hrs/wk = 1,560 hours); 1998-2001 (312 hours); 2001-2003 (300 hours); 2003-2008 (624 hours) = 2,796 hours

3. Writing: 2001-2003 ( 5 hrs/day = 3,650 hours); 2003-2005 (25 hours/wk = 2,600 hours); 2005-2008 (5 hours/wk = 780 hours) = 7,030 hours

4. Music: 1994-1996 (30 hrs/wk = 3,120 hours); 1996-1999 (1,000 hours); 1999-2001 (15 hours/wk = 1,560 hours); 2001-2003 (150 hours); 2003-2005 (100 hours); 2005-2008 (1,000 hours) = 6,930 hours

5. TV Producing: 2005-2007 (40 hrs/wk = 4, 160 hours) = 4, 160 hours

6. Meditation: 1976-2001 (5 hours); 2001-2003 (10 hours); 2003-2005 (5 hours); 2005-2006(5 hours);  2006-2008 (90 hours) = 115 hours

7. Tennis: 1990-1994 (10 hrs/wk = 2,080 hours); 1994-2007 (300 hours); 2008 (150 hours) = 2,530 hours

8. Teaching: 2000-2001 (Taught gym for a year = 2,184 hours); 2004 (Taught Creative Arts for six months = 1,080 hours); 2003 (Taught Creative Writing for one semester at Naropa = 48 hours);  2005-2007 (Private tutor for about four hours a week = 416 hours); 2007-2008 (Taught ESL at 30 hours/wk = 1,560 hours); 2008-2009 (Taught ESL at Yonsei University = 1,000 hours); 2007-2009 (Taught Composition online at 10 hours/wk = 1,040 hours) = 7, 328 hours

Now that I am doing 20 minutes a day of meditation each morning - about 2.5 hours a week - it will take me 90 years to reach mastery (1/3 of an hour x 365 x 90 = 10, 950 hours). I think I need to up the ante to one hour per day, which would make me reach mastery in 30 years (1 hour of meditation x 365 days x 30 = 10, 950 hours).

If I do two hours of writing practice per day, it will take me 4 years to achieve mastery (2 x 365 x 4 = 2,920 hours + 7,030 = 9,950 hours). 

If I do one hour of painting practice per day, it will take me 20 years to become an expert.

If I practice music for one hour a day, it will take me ten years to become an expert.

Looking at my next year, I need to raise so much money to be able to live. I would say about $3,500-4,000/month. This will require working about 35-40 hours/week. If I work online, I can have more time to become an expert at different things. 

In order to become an expert at writing, I could concentrate solely on that exercise...there are 168 hours in a week - of which I am sleeping about 56 of those hours, which leaves 72 hours to become an expert if I remove sleeping and work...if I remove television watching, scouring the Internet, and leave time for family, let's say two hours a day, that would leave me with 58 hours...if I subtract out eating time, that leaves me with 37 hours...if I keep eating healthy and contribute one hour of exercise each day, that leaves me with 31 hours...if I subtract out the time it takes me to transport my body from place to place, I would be left with 17 hours...If I subtract out an unknown ten hours for unforeseen circumstances, such as a family event, death, or other anomaly, I would be left with 7 hours of actual writing time per week...that makes becoming an expert at writing ten years, if I sacrifice most of my free time. 

If I was offered money to write - a grant or scholarship - I could attain my requisite 3,000+ hours within two years by writing five hours a day. This would require a two year writing program, where I wouldn't have to work. 

I think this could be my statement of intention for a grant. It is very logical and has good reasoning. 


Conclusions: Becoming a bum and sitting on someone's couch and practicing an instrument or writing without getting a job might be the only way for people without a lot of money - trust funds and shit - to actually become an expert at what they do. Next time you criticize your friend for not getting a company job that sucks the life out of them, or doing some menial labor that gives them a small paycheck, but lots of free time to contribute to becoming a master at something, take the time to realize that they just might be doing pretty well in three or four years, once they reach that 10,000 hours benchmark.

If you are a parent, and have reached this post by mistake, but have become fascinated with the possibilities of what this means for you or your children, be sure to encourage your child's passions and offer them as much practice time at their passions to insure that they will be a success at what they do. 

If you are already a master at one of my passions above, please e-mail me a lesson.

The Desert Rose

MacGyver Reading, Video Chatting, and Food Photos

I enjoyed the MacGyver Poetry Reading. There were a lot of fun pieces. I especially liked Ken's story about Mr. Biggles. It made me want to get a bad Christmas present just to be like the main character.

I suppose that the next reading will be in a bigger venue. Loren and I both thought it was only going to be us that showed up. That is why we'll be sure to set-up a bar/outside venue for the December 7th, Airwolf Storytelling Celebration. Who knows? I might even make fliers.

I have been reading things on the web. It must be winter. I tend to read a lot in the winter. I even bought Piercing by Ryu Murakami. It is flat so far. Maybe, it'll get better. I am also reading Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. The film adaptation by Sam Mendes is due out in weeks. The trailer looks pretty good.

I am already planning what will happen upon my return to America. The apartment has been set-up. The film production is still under way. Boxes are being packed. And I am very ready to to see what will transpire in the next six months. It might be one of the most exciting whirlwinds of my life: marriage, Los Angeles, NY, Brooklyn, movie, Ohio, road trip, Los Angeles, getting a job, surviving, not dying, and sunshine, lots of sunshine.

At night, I sing songs to So Gee about what will happen. We do this through video chat.

I think video chatting has saved my life three or four times. Even when I'm all alone, sometimes I video chat with a ghost. He says his name is Mortimer. He lives on Sixth Avenue. I don't know what city. I don't even know if he's speaking English. I like his bed though. It makes me want to own the same kind when I move. I tell him this. Twice. Then another apparition appears. It is not like Mel Gibson's made for TV movie version of Hamlet. It is more like Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams. In fact, it is Kevin Costner. We talk about his career. I say to make a sequel to Dances with Wolves. He says that I spend too much time eating and not making fabulous art. I don't argue with him. Costner knows how to make a poet bleed. He's a poet himself.

Today I bought meditation cushions in Insadong. I plan on meditating every day of my life for at least 20 minutes in the mornings. I will see if this can be my new religion. I will probably make this last for 17 days.

Mortimer: Your religions are as easy to pick as numbers on a Roulette board. Now if you could only learn how to play Baccarat.

I also keep taking pictures of food advertisements in Seoul. I have not eaten anything I've photographed. They partially scare me and make me convulse. That is why I photograph them. I am facing my fears. I also see my next painting. It is called Barney Newman.

I wonder if I can make colors bleed in horizontal stripes like food on a plate.

Poetry Reading: "Finding Your Inner Poetry MacGyver"

Event: Poetry Reading*
Where: Loren G's house**
Date: Saturday, November 15
TIME: 6-8 PM
Address: A515 Hyoseong, Jewelry City, 48-2 Inui-dong, Jongno-Gu

All flight attendants are welcome to read if they so desire. A sign-up sheet will be passed among those present, if more than five people show up. ; )

Videos or audio clips are welcome from those who cannot attend due to distance or time (If videos are submitted post-event, we will show them at the next reading). Homemade refreshments will also be welcome from anyone who decides saltines and peanuts are just not enough.

*Special guest appearance by MacGyver
**This is a non-smoking home. Locations outside for snorkelers.




mustseeplacesintheUnited States:
overwhelming, frustrating, and repelling
mind-boggling natural grandeur


my heart
its texture
like an abalone
pumps a breeze
down my blouse
unbottons knees
lets secrets out
my lips, my mouth
shackles or silver?
wisdom over doubt


9 out of 10
his heart a
fire exhaust
shards in water
beneath a tomb
onet seemed
mind are two
see United New City on
bodies raw spirit be
and exhilarating Canyon is yang to yin
a place of mind natural
you need to hike or horseback into it or raft through it
that will give you some earthly perspective on
manmade marvels