Caveat: 絶學無憂

I ran across this in my Dictionary of Buddhist Terms.

Stop studying and be happy.

Somewhat related to “Ignorance is bliss.”

This phrase is apparently from the Tao Te Ching (도덕경 [dodeokgyeong] in Korean). A lot of Taoist aphorisms and concepts were incorporated into Chinese Buddhism, as Buddhism spread into China from India (via the ancient Indo-Greek civilization of the Indus valley and Afghanistan and the Kushan Empire). Hence also they ended up forming a part of the Korean Buddhist heritage. Taoism is not really practiced in Korea separate from those elements that it loaned to Confucianism and Buddhism, but no less an item than the 태극기Korean nationalist flag incorporates Taoist symbolism.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: Best. Day. Ever.

That title is tongue-in-cheek. I indulged my anti-social self today. I shouldn’t do that.

…But I have such strong tendencies that way. Perhaps I should just give up and find a monastery that will take me.


CaveatDumpTruck Logo[daily log: walking, 1 km]

Caveat: Hambre interior

Tal vez lo siguiente subraya el hecho de mi depresión reciente. Sea lo que sea.

Ésta canción siguiente es producto de la otra ciudad que ha integrado mi alma: la gran podrida del mero méxico.

Lo que estoy escuchando en este momento.

Hocico, "Odio en el alma."


Afliccion por no saber
cuando llegara el ocaso
las almas rien
y el espiritu miente.

Sin sentimientos de si
hemos oscultado el limbo
tanto hemos mirado hacia atras
que el pasado nos ha alcanzado

Esta enmienda voraz
se revolcara en nuestros traumas
donde la inocencia resulta
inconmensurable ante nuestros ojos
siempre tratando de esconderse
en la casa del debil.

Escucha nuestro afan
por quedar en la inclemencia mundana.

Entierra este diente en su quijada
y sabras cual es tu destino
escupe en su ojo mas humillado
y sabras cual es su nombre.

Hemos llegado sin fe
tambaleantes en confusion
y hemos salido hambrientos
sin poder siquiera digerir
el aire que nos cubre
lamentos de inanicion
sin poder comprender al fin.

Hambre en el alma
Hambre interior
Hambre en el alma
Hambre en mi interior.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: I’m walking a line-just barely enough to be living

Yesterday, it dawned heavily overcast and about 10 C (50 F). This was an exact replica of the eternally overcast dawns of my youth in Humboldt, and put me into a moody, nostalgic state of mind as I sat and tried to read on my couch after waking and being unable to get back to sleep – a frequent enough occurance these days. It's a common type of weather on the Humboldt side of the Pacific, but not really that common on this side, in Korea, except during the monsoon, when if it's overcast it's always stickily 10 or 20 degrees C warmer.

Today dawned less overcast, more just that spring Seoul smog (outsourced from Beijing, mostly) that I like to complain about. It was warmer. I walked to work without my overcoat for the first time since last October or so. Buds had appeared on some of the trees.

At work today, Ken commented that I looked miserable. I reckon so.

I'm unhappy on several fronts. There's the increasingly permanent-feeling post-cancer reality of my seemingly fragile and unpleasant health condition. It still hurts to eat – I suspect it may never be an enjoyable experience again  for me. There's the new arrangement in the staff room at work, which frankly sucks. I'm particularly put out by what seems to be a neglect of attention to the fact that of everyone's new spot, mine and Ken's are the only spots without conveniently adjacent shelf space. Is the fact that he and I both have tended in the past to complain about a need for more shelf space linked to this? Are we being punished? Do they think that native-speakers don't need shelf space? In the previous arrangement, I had finally won some shelf space after nearly a year of requesting it. How long is it going to take this time? Small things of this sort affect my mood profoundly. There's the 30+ teaching hours and concommitant shitloads of correcting. There's the never-ending litany of unrealistic parental complaints. There's the fact that despite having some great debate classes recently, I just discovered this morning that hours of video that I've taken are unusable due to technical glitches involving the microphone I was using. There's my perennial laziness vis-a-vis my efforts to study Korean, despite my equally perennial tendency to point out to myself that if there was a single thing that would improve my quality-of-life in my current circumstances, it would be to improve my Korean. Why must I be so lazy?


What I'm listening to right now.

Talking Heads, "Houses in Motion."


For a long time I felt without style or grace
Wearing shoes with no socks in cold weather
I knew my heart was in the right place
I knew I'd be able to do these things.

And as we watch him digging his own grave
It is important to know that was where he's at
He can't afford to stop…that is what he believes
He'll keep on digging for a thousand years.

I'm walking a line-i'm thinking about empty motion
I'm walking a line-just barely enough to be living
Get outa the way-no time to begin
This isn't the time-so nothing was done
Not talking about-not many at all
I'm turning around-no trouble at all
You notice there's nothing around you, around you
I'm walking a line-divide and dissolve.

Never get to say much, never get to talk
Tell us a little bit, but not too much
Right about then, is where she give up
She has closed her eyes, she has give up hope

I'm walking a line-I hate to be dreaming in motion
I'm walking a line-just barely enough to be living
Get outa the way-no time to begin
This isn't the time-so nothing was done
Not talking about-not many at all
I'm turning around-no trouble at all
I'm keeping my fingers behind me, 'hind me
I'm walking a line-divide and dissolve.

I turn myself around, I'm moving backwards and forwards
I'm moving twice as much as I was before
I'll keep on digging to the center of the earth
I'll be down in there moving the in the room…

I'm walking a line-visiting houses in motion
I'm walking a line-just barely enough to be living
Get outa the way-no time to begin
This isn't the time-so nothing was done
Not talking about-not many at all
I'm turning around-no trouble at all
Two different houses surround you, 'round you
I'm walking a line-divide and dissolve.

[daily log: walking (a line), 5 km]

Caveat: 남이 떡 먹는데 떡고물 떨어지는 걱정한다

This is an aphorism from my book of aphorisms.

남이 떡 먹는데 떡고물 떨어지는 걱정한다
nam·i tteok meok·neun tteok·go·mul tteol·eo·ji·neun geok·jeong·han·da
other-SUBJ ricecake eat-PRESPART ricecake-powder fall-off-PRESPART worry-PRES
[Like…] Worrying about the powdered covering falling off another person’s cake.

This is to worry about another person’s affairs that have nothing do do with one’s own. People worry too much about other people’s affairs.


고물 = powdered bean or sesame or pea used to coat a sweet rice cake, traditionally eaten as a type of candy.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: Flesh may empaire, but reason can repaire

"O but," quoth she, "great griefe will not be tould,
And can more easily be thought, then said."
"Right so"; quoth he, "but he, that never would,
Could never: will to might gives greatest aid."
"But grief," quoth she, "does great grow displaid,
If then it find not helpe, and breedes despaire."
"Despaire breedes not," quoth he, "where faith is staid."
"No faith so fast," quoth she, "but flesh does paire."
"Flesh may empaire," quoth he, "but reason can repaire."

– from The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599)

[daily log: walking, 1.5 km]

Caveat: chaos and bachatón

2014-03-22 12.06.54At least I'm appreciated by my students. I found this message (at right) on the white board after a class, from two students from whom I wouldn't have expected. I'm glad they seem to appreciate me.

The staff room today was a chaotic nightmare – they've decided to rearrange the desks… something about a need for the team members (i.e. middle-school team and elementary team) needing to be grouped together and facing one another. But!… well, 4 of the 8 staff members are on both teams, so the whole undertaking seems stupid, to me – a waste of time and effort, and I can almost guarantee that I will have a smaller, less comfortable work-area than I had before.

What I'm listening to right now.

MJ feat. La Sista, "Teorías de amor."

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: 지옥행

My student, Clara, age 7, created this narrative involving me, a policeman chasing me, my eventual death by drowning, and subsequent descent to hell (where she writes 지옥행 [bound for hell] in Korean at the end). Should I be worried or flattered?


It reminds me of a repeating nightmare I used to have while in highschool.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: I ate a doughnut

Some kid's mom brought doughnuts to Karma. I don't normally eat food at work, since my surgery, since eating is such a fraught and even painful undertaking, but I decided to try a doughnut, because I have this fond recollection of doughnuts. Further, the other day I'd managed to eat a slice of pizza successfully that had been bought for some students.

It was a mistake. I felt like I would choke on it – it was too dry. I had to drink a lot of water.

Oops, wait. I said I wasn't going to complain about food anymore.

Oh well, I already wrote this. I guess that was the highlight (lowlight?) of my day. Classes went well, though.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]


Caveat: silencio sin rubor de cocodrilo


Yo sé que mi perfil será tranquilo
en el musgo de un norte sin reflejo.
Mercurio de vigilia, casto espejo
donde se quiebra el pulso de mi estilo.

Que si la yedra y el frescor del hilo
fue la norma del cuerpo que yo dejo,
mi perfil en la arena será un viejo
silencio sin rubor de cocodrilo.

Y aunque nunca tendrá sabor de llama
mi lengua de palomas ateridas
sino desierto gusto de retama,

libre signo de normas oprimidas
seré en el cuerpo de la yerta rama
y en el sinfín de dalias doloridas.

– Federico García Lorca (poeta español 1898-1936)

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: 아는 길도 물어 가라

This is an aphorism from my aphorism book.

아는 길도 물어 가라
a·neun gil·do mur·eo ga·ra
know-PPART road-TOO ask-INF go-IMP
Ask too about the known road.

Ask the way, even though you already know it. Seek counsel from more experienced elders.

I’ll try.

We had 회식 (business dinner) after work to say goodbye to long-time Karma employee Gina, whose reliability and friendliness in the staffroom I will miss.

It was 회 (hweh = raw fish i.e. sashimi), which is hard for me for textural reason. I ate a piece of kimchi. It was too spicy, but just the fact of trying to eat it represents progress, of a sort, on the food front.

[daily log: walking, 3 km]

Caveat: the hollow sound of silent people

I took my standard Sunday internet holiday, but I did not accomplish much. I have these drawings I want to work on… and my writing, too. But I haven't progressed much. Mostly I graze various philosophy books and kill time with mind-numbing games.

What I'm listening to right now.

Kris Kristofferson, "Casey's Last Ride."


Casey joins the hollow sound of silent people walking down
The stairway to the subway in the shadows down below;
Following their footsteps through the neon-darkened corridors
Of silent desperation, never speakin' to a soul.
The poison air he's breathin' has the dirty smell of dying
'Cause it's never seen the sunshine and it's never felt the rain.
But Casey minds the arrows and ignores the fatal echoes
Of the clickin' of the turnstiles and the rattle of his chains.

"Oh!" she said, "Casey it's been so long since I've seen you!"
"Here" she said, "just a kiss to make a body smile!"
"See" she said, "I've put on new stockings just to please you!"
"Lord!" she said, "Casey can you only stay a while?"

Casey leaves the under-ground and stops inside the Golden Crown
For something wet to wipe away the chill that's on his bone.
Seeing his reflection in the lives of all the lonely men
Who reach for any thing they can to keep from goin' home.
Standin' in the corner Casey drinks his pint of bitter
Never glancing in the mirror at the people passing by
Then he stumbles as he's leaving and he wonders if the reason
Is the beer that's in his belly, or the tear that's in his eye.

"Oh!" she said, "I suppose you seldom think about me,
"Now" she said, "now that you've a fam'ly of your own";
"Still" she said, "it's so blessed good to feel your body!"
"Lord!" she said" "Casey it's a shame to be alone!"

[daily log: walking, 1 km]

Caveat: Stinging

So tired.

As some of you know, my tongue is mostly numb since my surgery. Today, it was "stinging" – a hard-to-describe sensation that is halfway between pain and just discomfort. It's a bit like the feeling you get when your limb goes "to sleep" and then you shake it out when you shift positions. I don't know if this is a "ghost" sensation that is a consequence of the cut nerves, or some kind of restorative activity. Regardless, it's a bit … annoying.

More later.

[daily log: walking, 6.5 km]

Caveat: Había rosas

Está bien lo que está

Está bien lo que está:
Sé que todo está bien.
Sé el nexo.
Y la razón.
Y hasta el designio.
Yo lo sé todo,
Lo aprendí en un libro sin páginas,
Sin letras y sin nombre.
Y no soy como el loco
Que se quema los dedos trémulos
Por separar la llama rosa de la mecha negra.
Pasó volando y me rozó la frente.
Era buena la vida:
Había rosas.
Unos minutos antes me había sonreído un niño.
Pasó volando y me rozó la frente.
No sé por dónde vino
Ni por dónde se perdió luego pálida y ligera.
No recuerdo la fecha.
No sabría decir de qué color era ni de qué forma;
No sabría, de veras, decir nada.
Pasó volando -había muchas rosas-
Y era buena la vida todavía.

– Dulce María Loynaz (poeta cubana, 1902-1997)

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: And the gray air haunted with hawks

The Place For No Story

The coast hills at Sovranes Creek:
No trees, but dark scant pasture drawn thin
Over rock shaped like flame;
The old ocean at the land's foot, the vast
Gray extension beyond the long white violence;
A herd of cows and the bull
Far distant, hardly apparent up the dark slope;
And the gray air haunted with hawks:
This place is the noblest thing I have ever seen.
No imaginable
Human presence here could do anything
But dilute the lonely self-watchful passion.

– Robinson Jeffers (greatest American poet, 1887-1962)

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: 소멸탈출

The song-title “소멸탈출” [somyeol-talchul] means, roughly, “avoid extinction.” This was my approach to life last summer. I feel as if extinction is still hanging over me. It occupies my mouth while I sleep, a kind of ghost-of-death that anchors itself in there when I cease my vigilance.

What I’m listening to right now.

Nell (넬), “소멸탈출.” This could be a hymn, almost.


고개 숙인 비겁함이 날 초라하게 하고
구겨버린 내 무릎이 자꾸 땅 속에 박혀
알 수 없는 목소리가 머리 속을 울리고
위태로운 내 믿음이 촛불처럼 흔들려

Lift me up, Lift me up
이 어둠 속에서
Lift me up, Lift me up
날 일으켜 세워줘

유혹이 든 위협이든 한 가지 확실한 건
난 언제나 내 진심의 반대편에 서있고
내 자신에 대한 연민과 혐오 사이에 갇혀
후회란 두 글자 속에 내 전부를 가둬
Lift me up, Lift me up
이 어둠 속에서
Lift me up, Lift me up
날 일으켜 세워줘
Don’t let me break down.

여기저기 균열이 간 내 마음의 틈 그 사이로
절망의 그림자가 말 없이 스며들어.

Lift me up, Lift me up
이 어둠 속에서
Lift me up, Lift me up
날 일으켜 세워줘
Lift me up, Lift me up
이 어둠 속에서
Lift me up, Lift me up
날 일으켜 세워줘

Lift me up, Lift me up
Lift me up, Lift me up
Don’t let me break down.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]



Caveat: New Elementary Debate Classes

This past week I started a new, exhausting schedule – as if my previous schedule didn't already feel exhausting.

One advantage of it, though, is that I get to teach debate to elementary kids again – after a very long hiatus where my only debate work with elementary kids was through my Saturday 특강 or my own surreptitious, off-curriculum efforts.

Here are two debates we had on Thursday.


[daily log: walking, 1 km]

Caveat: Including the Kitchen Sink

I like to vary my path walking to and from work. Today I passed through a small fragment of a park-like area that adjoins the block of apartments directly south of my work – near the back entrance of Munhwa elementary school – and there is a an old man there that keeps one of the ubiquitous "recyclying carts." He's very neat and organized. There was no one to be seen nearby, but he had strapped a kitchen sink to his cart. It made me think of the English aphorism about the kitchen sink.

Now I've seen everything – including the kitchen sink.

2014-03-08 14.37.19

2014-03-08 14.24.18Here, at right, are some blind alligators I drew for my debate 특강.

When I got home this afternoon, I crashed, and slept. I hate that I do that on Saturdays, as it always discombobulates my schedule, since afternoons are my normal working time. I can't help it – I was (and remain) exhausted. I put in my longest week (in number of hours, number of classes, amount of stress) of any week since my hospital stay last summer.

I will sleep a lot.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: creazy

My first-grade elementary student delivered this note to me quite secretively today. She came to where I was at my desk and put it face down on my desk and ran away.

It said: "Jread [my name: Jared] creazy but handsom but creazy"


I guess that's flattering.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: About Face (book)

I have always been only a half-hearted user of facebook. I've been really bad about staying in touch with it lately (and other social media too, like Korea's kakao, etc.). Nevertheless I view it as a valuable tool for staying in touch with people, and I was very grateful to have it as a means of staying in touch during my illness last summer. Lately I have neglected it, feeling both strongly anti-social and specifically anti-facebook.

I have decided to end the "feed" between my blog and facebook. I have two reasons. First, I feel it gives people a false impression of my level of participation in facebook when they see posts from my blog – people don't seem to realize that my blog "cross-posts" to facebook without my having to log into facebook. I think it's more "honest" for me to only post in facebook when I'm actually in facebook – then people can see how rarely I actually go  there (hmm, maybe once a month, these days?). Second, the cross-posting function is unreliable and there are formatting issues that are hard to manage, sometimes. So rather than having to monitor it, I'll just go back to the old way: if people want to see what I'm up to, they can visit my blog directly.

Anyway, thank you to all my friends and acquaintances who have followed my blog because of these cross-postings to facebook.

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: 함흥차사

This is an aphorism from my aphorism book – really more of a noun-phrase than an aphorism.


The messenger to Hamheung

Apparently it refers to a messenger sent by an ancient king to his father’s hometown of Hamheung to try to make amends for some previous slight, but the messenger was killed – and thus never returned. This appears to mean something along the lines of English’s “shooting the messenger” but the usage is somewhat different – it means someone who doesn’t come back from some task. It does NOT appear to mean something like “don’t blame the bearer of bad news” but rather “where did so-and-so wander off to?”

Caveat: 8 Months Cancer Free

I feel as if I am counting down to something. But I really am only counting down to the past. There is nothing specific ahead, except "continue living." I feel as if I have abrogated all those sweeping "bucket list" goals I spent so much time outlining and meditating on during the depths of my illness last summer, and now there is only each day. 

This isn't completely bad, of course. It's good to live "in the moment," as they say. I need those sweeping goals, though – otherwise, the aimlessness of life underwhelms me and leaves me feeling purposeless. 

I am neglecting the social stuff – work is highly social, of course, and my schedule is very, very busy these days. Consequently, when I'm not at work I have no desire for human contact or interaction. I ignore the "social media" with the exception of this odd, one-way communication that is my blog. That's ok, I guess, but I know some of my friends and acquaintances become annoyed. If so… I'm sorry. 

And… today was a really depressing day. Was it depressing because I was already depressed, and thus I only saw the bad parts? Or was it objectively depressing? I had a completely new schedule – meaning unfamiliar classes (although I know almost all the students well enough). I was inadequately prepared. I have huge pile of correcting and grading and evaluations hanging over me… undone. At the end, it was capped off by some unwanted, negative feedback conveyed from parents. Stupid complaints: the typical stuff, parents who think they know English better than the teacher and want to second guess what teachers say, or how they correct their students' work, or whatever. I have no time for that crap.

Without a doubt, I'm depressed, lately. Am I more depressed than I was last May, when I was sick with cancer and didn't know it, and when I was in constant pain and dissatisfied with work? Hm… I'm now recovering from cancer, rather than unknowingly sick with it. But I still have constant pain, I'm still dissatisfied with work, and now I have my new food miseries as well as the gloom of my mortality hanging over me more prominently than ever.

Overall quality of life? 30%. Has it been worse? Yes. Has it been better? Yes.

What I'm listening to right now.

Digable Planets, "Graffiti feat. Jeru The Damaja."

[daily log: walking, 5 km]

Caveat: Rudolph

Last Friday, it was a late Christmas for my Stars "Betelgeuse"-반 kids, who role-played a memorized musical "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" for their month-end speech. They didn't do perfectly, but they actually did much better than practice sessions would have led me to expect. Ah… the power of the pressure to perform.

Merry very belated Christmas. I'm very tired.

[daily log: walking, 5.5 km]

Caveat: A Morning

(Poem #18 on new numbering scheme)

A Morning
After 14 days of smog,
the sun hurled itself into
a sky purplish blue with spring.
I am not sleeping so well
there are unfulfilled novels
populating my dreams.

picture[daily log: walking, 1.5 km]

Caveat: 내가 지금 편한 이유는 내리막길을 걷고 있기 때문이다

This aphorism is not from my aphorism book. It was one that Curt was admiring and trying to explain to me, which he got, in turn, from the Kakao status message (Kakao is a kind of Korean facebook) of a student.

내가 지금 편한 이유는
nae·ga ji-geum pyeon·han i·yu·neun
I-SUBJ now comfortable-be-PPART motive-TOPIC
내리막길을 걷고 있기 때문이다
nae·ri·mak·gil·eul geot·go itt·gi ttae·mun·i·da
downhill-way-OBJ walk-ING there-be-GER reason-be
The reason I am comfortable now is because I am walking downhill.

I am comfortable because I am walking downhill.

This is not a way of saying “smooth going” but rather that you are not working hard enough. Which is to say, if you do not strive for something, you will just coast downhill.


Today was a holiday. I did nothing: I slept in, and then played a game on my computer. Day over. Today, I coasted.

[daily log: walking, 1 km]

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