by Niall Doherty


My work style has changed drastically in recent months. For me, doing work used to mean putting in headphones, shutting out the rest of the world, and hammering away at the machine. Skype calls and meetups were a distraction. Now they’re a priority. Connecting with people, really listening to them, building relationships. This feels right. As such, I spent seven hours on Skype today.


I think of him every time I walk past that corner, met just once a few weeks back. Alan was his name. In his sixties and traveling the world with a banjo. It’s rare enough in my neighborhood to see another white person, let alone one strumming and singing on the street. He told me he was a Christian within three sentences, and that God has always provided for him. I never told him I was an atheist. I wish I had.


On the second-chance train I see a young man who’s not all there. Or perhaps he’s more there than the rest of us, as he chats and interacts with the innocence of a child while everyone else is zoned out or glued to a small screen. He’s with a girl who likewise appears to have some cognitive disability. But she’s subdued. I guess they’re at the end of a date. She gets off two stops before, head down, never looking back to catch his tender wave goodbye.


Seems I’m still riding the sex drive seesaw. You know you have a problem when a dream girl straddles you in her underwear and you barely feel a twitch. Lousy penis, thanks for nothing. I’m convinced the cause is physical rather than psychological. Otherwise I’d still be waking in a tent most mornings when I’m alone. I’ll keep experimenting with diet and exercise until I figure it out. It’s tough though. You can’t help but feel like less of a man.


The more business owners I speak with, the more opportunities I see. Not to create some new and revolutionary product or service, but to do something better than it’s already being done. Because there are a lot of people out there who simply don’t give a shit. If you listen closely, if you genuinely care, and if you strive to deliver quality work you can be proud of, methinks you’re already ahead of the pack.

Sunset overlooking Busan

Sunset overlooking Busan


Wind sprints, vitamin D3, no more coffee, five hard boiled eggs right before bed, cutting back on canned seafood, brazil nuts hiding in crazy-expensive cereal, freezing cold showers, multivitamins, explosive pull-ups, grass-fed butter, raw almonds, five pharmacies on the hunt for cod liver oil, blood work at a hospital… and the mystery still lingers.


I definitely take it for granted sometimes. This life. This freedom. I guess we all do. You rarely appreciate what it’s like to be free of ankle pain until you twist an ankle. This morning though I took a moment, back to bed at ten to make amends for a restless night, the comfort accentuated by the thought of all the wage slaves who wish they could do such a thing on a random weekday in January.


I’m at Presbyterian waiting for a train, reading what Murakami talks about. I spent last night at her place, along like fire. This time next week I’ll be at sea, our time together at an end. It would have been nice to meet her earlier. Or maybe it’s perfect as is. We’ll never know. Here in Korea they play a short tune at the station when a train is about to arrive. I hear it now and look up from my book. Almost time to go.


I’ve developed a strange self-assurance about money. Strange because my savings are running pretty low. But I don’t see money-making as all that difficult anymore. At least not to a certain level. I’m confident I could pull in $2k a month pretty comfortably, part-time work. Web design and coaching streams are there for me if I need them. But my primary focus right now has to be the software biz, and that will take a few more months to turn green.


We meet at Suyeong, exit ten, with beans in fish-shaped pastries. Straight from there to the museum, to dress in traditional Korean garb and partake in knee-ache. Later we roam an empty campus and sneak up stairwells before finding a long-awaited barbershop. We ask if she can try and they oblige. Next there’s pizza, chai tea and chocolate cake, then home for our best yet, the seesaw bouncing back.

This is what men used to wear in Korea. (Or quite possibly a joke at my expense.)

This is what men used to wear in Korea. (Or quite possibly a joke at my expense.)


How bad do I want it? Yesterday, it was bad enough to forgo a much-needed snooze and put in an early hour’s graft. Then last night, while she slept, I punched another right before the dawn. Tonight, two more, despite heavy eyes and a foggy brain. How do people succeed? They do things most aren’t willing to do. I see that as my edge, right there. I may not have the most talent, resources or expertize. But, more often than not, I’ll do those things.


She sees a noticeable contrast, between the guy she just spent a weekend with and the guy she met for coffee a few weeks back. Were you nervous, she asks, that first time, was that it? Less self-assured, certainly. I never realized how much of my confidence was tied to my libido, used to wonder if I’d be better off an eunuch, less distractions from noble pursuits. Now I know better, Napoleon Hill’s words finally hitting home.


I lie down to try catch forty. I’m moving out today, Mr. Choi will be here in an hour. My web connection stopped working this morning, as if warming me up for four weeks offline. I’ll spend tonight in the arms of a girl with a dragon tattoo. Tomorrow I leave her, leave Korea, leave Asia, a whole ocean soon between us. Lying here, trying to figure out how I feel about it all. And best I can determine, I feel fine.


We take a walk down by the stream, crisscross stepping stones, lie in the grass and watch the clouds. This has been good. Here, with her. She seems at peace with me leaving. Maybe it’s because we only had three weeks together. Maybe I’ve begun sucking less at this relationship lark, expectations better set. Or maybe she’s different, perspective like mine. You know: Don’t be sad to see it end; be glad it happened at all.


I’m at customs, ready to stamp out and hop aboard. Smell you later, Asia! Sitting alongside are my very German captain and skipper. I’ve already given them pet names of Port and Starboard. But wait, what’s this? “Big problem,” I’m told. Apparently the Korean government brought in some new law on January 8th that prevents civilians from leaving the country on cargo ships. Fuck.


Email to agent: “Let me make sure I understand: Through no fault of my own, I am required to pay hundreds of additional dollars (estimating at least $500) for the inconvenience of being delayed almost two weeks on a trip I had booked months in advance, while my agent accepts no responsibility even though it could be well argued that it is the agent’s job to stay informed of any developments which may cause serious problems for their customers. Is that correct?”

Dock blocked in South Korea

Dock blocked in South Korea

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