THE LAST TEN YEARS

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It is finally Sunday night (or Monday morning, actually), and I’m now alone. This long New Year’s weekend chewed me up, passed me through its rotten booze-ulcered guts, and shat me out an a cold cold Sunday. I’ve been meaning to get reflecty about the last ten years but have been too engaged with parties, concerts, comedy sets, rivers of beer, and a grand quest to regain my coat, phone, and self-respect that ended oh-so-ironically. Yes, we were barely a day into the decade before my first grand redner was committed. More later.

Instead, like every other narcissistic navel-gazer on my friends’ list, I’ll take the opportunity to write about this last decade…

It is finally Sunday night (or Monday morning, actually), and I’m now alone. This long New Year’s weekend chewed me up, passed me through its rotten booze-ulcered guts, and shat me out an a cold cold Sunday. I’ve been meaning to get reflecty about the last ten years but have been too engaged with parties, concerts, comedy sets, rivers of beer, and a grand quest to regain my coat, phone, and self-respect that ended oh-so-ironically. Yes, we were barely a day into the decade before my first grand redner was committed. More later.

Instead, like every other narcissistic navel-gazer on my friends’ list, I’ll take the opportunity to write about this last decade…

It’s been a herky jerky ride in which I’ve seen my youth slip from me faster than the bodily fluids of a guy with typhoid. No longer am I that fresh faced kid out of art school, armed with a useless diploma, a smoking habit, and ‘I’m gonna change the world’ convictions, but I’m now a man pushing forty, with skid marks of grey above my ears and an ever-increasing web of crows feet around my cynical eyes.

I started “The Oughts” in Seattle, where I stuck around long enough to load up my Geo Metro and head to sunny Hell-A, despite the fact that I had just gotten together with a girl that I was nuts for and was regularly performing all over town. I regretted the second I pulled out of the city, but Hollywood’s suck could not be resisted, and soon I was esconced in a big house in the Echo Park Hills with my fellow theater comrades, the boys from Piece of Meat Theatre.

2000-03 was spent in L.A., where I came face to face with that frightening visage of Failure, along with her bitch of a sister, Complete Fucking Misery. Despite a productive couple of years – we did a load of shows and cranked out scripts and waited for that day when Ben Stiller would be on speed dial – I LOATHED L.A. The place literally made my skin hurt. So in February of ’03 I unceremoniously bailed. It was sudden and ugly – like the last helicopter from the American embasssy in Saigon; any semblance of dignity was puked up in front of everyone to behold, and soon I found myself back in green,wet Seattle. I remember spending my time eating discount Chinese food while watching footage of W’s new Iraq War. Despite the fact that I was utterly broke, I magaged to sort out a place to live and pick up work, and spent a reasonably happy 9 months back in a place with clean air, good bars, and four distinct seasons.

In late 2003 I was coaxed into heading out to Chicago, to go on tour with a washed-up industrial band whose music I didn’t even like. This proved to be a shitty idea, as my friend who invited me into the band lost his mind in a spiral of serious paranioa, convinced that government agents were trailing his every move. I did the tour – which pretty much sucked – since everyone hated our band and our singer was a douchebag, and at the end of it I was abandoned in Chicago by my increasingly unstable friend. I stuck out a very lonely and cold winter – spending much of my free time holed-up in the room I was subletting and reading travel books that I borrowed from the public library. I had always been passionate about travel and had done some to England, Ireland and Germany. I then felt stuck, and every line I read in those books just made me want to escape on a molecular level. There was a giant real world outside of the borders of America and I wanted to see it. So… I decided then and therefor that I would.

I was soon back in my hometown of Olympia – where I hadn’t lived in over 13 years – suddenly shacked up with a girl that I had know when I was a teenager who came back into my orbit. This proved to be very short-lived, thank God, as we quickly found out that we in fact hated each other, but I am thankful to her for helping to extricate me out of a terrible situation. The fact that I replaced it with another terrible situation somehow didn’t bother me at the time, or maybe I was just trying to tred water.

By that June of (’04), I was splitting time by staying at my friend Scott’s place and spending time with my parents, whose health was already beginning to slipt. But after some years of being far away, it was great to reconnect with my parents. The time we spent together was just lovely, full of great, long meals and honest talk and laughter, real laughter. Nobody could laugh like my dad. He had a deep belly-laugh that could shake a mountain. After answering an ad on the internet, I found myself on a plane to Busan, Korea, supposedly for “just one year” before I headed to grad school. Well, five have passed and I’m still here.

Coming here was a revelation. I was immediately happy, in fact, I had regretted not doing it sooner, when I was younger. Not only did I have a decent-enough job with a free apartment, but within a week I had a set of friends AND a hot girlfriend. It was as if, when arriving at immigration, I was handed a big bag containing a BRAND NEW LIFE.

Since coming to Korea I’ve traveled to following countries: Japan (3 times), China(3 times), Vietnam, Laos (3 times), Cambodia (twice), Thailand (3 times), New Zealand, and Myanmar (very briefly but I got the fuckin’ stamp). I’ve been back home five or six times and am heading to The Philippines in a couple of weeks. I’ve managed to save some money, despite spending a grip. I’ve met some great, great people. I’ve played music, done a lot of comedy (once getting arrested for it). Most importantly, I’ve done a lot of writing, especially travel writing, and have been published for real and all over the web and even won an award last year (hooray for me). This is what I’m most passionate about and where I’ll be focusing me energies in the future. New Decade’s resolution? Write, write, write! …and don’t go ever go to the casino again. Oh, yeah, don’t get too fat, either.

Out of all of the craziness of “The Oughts” – and it has been fucking nuts – losing both my parents has been the most seismic event, one that I’m grappling to comprehend every day. I miss them both incredibly. There is a deep sadness that I carry with me everywhere, but this has given way to some peace and joy even. I sounds like a cliche but it is true, I assure you. When they’re gone, the memories live on. Especially the good ones.

Ten years have passed in an exhilation, the speed of which does horrify me. Does this perception of time just speed up exponentially with age? If that’s the case, it just reiterates that we don’t have too much time down here, so we gotte enjoy our allotments the best we can. And that’s what I will continue to do, whatever the hell comes my way. Given the state of the world, I’m not terribly optimistic, but I still won’t let it get me down.



5 thoughts on “THE LAST TEN YEARS”

    • You’ve done some traveling, I

      You’ve done some traveling, I don’t think the last decade has been a total loss for you. I think you need to buckle down and save money though. I know guys here that have been here as long as myself and they don’t have much to show for it, that’s really sad.  

      Reply
  1. Reality

    The reality my friend is that you need to stop asking others to judge you.Then you will be a success.Nothing can be gained from seeking approval.Do what you want to do, in a pure way ,and maybe Ben Stiller will ring you.It seems that everything you have done , is  some kind of attention seeking exercise.Not wanting to be overly critical, but you went from a big wide audience(LA)where you say you failed,and then moved to a smaller stage eg the classroom.You are almost 40, enjoy, get on with your life, you can’t worry about this stuff,do what you want to.You let the norms, rules and regs of society, anchor you down.Success is mental , a self -perception and is relative.Actually finding happiness, and what you did here, may be your answer.Now find the key to your own hand cuffs!You can do it , put your back into it.Your only 6 inches from success, the space from ear to ear.In my opinion, your propensity for honesty is admirable, but not benificial for you mentally.There are lot of people pretending to be special here, failed this and that, but Korea can be a new beginning.We should be grateful to an extent, but we make it happen, and you have.Now get back and chase those dreams, and don’t care, win or loss.I know you love the Casino.I want a commission later.Good luck!

    Reply
  2. Why do you assume that I

    @lee-bum-seok:  Why do you assume that I haven’t and am not saving any money?  Just because I travel a lot doesn’t mean I don’t save.  I do.

    And I never said that the last decade was a "total loss."  I don’t consider it that at all.  There were successes and failures, but it was pretty rich, as far as life goes.

     

    @Angel: Thanks for your advice, but I’m doing just fine.  Yes, I write publically about things in my life, but I think you may be reading far too much into it.  As far as you telling me not to be so "honest," I will gleefully disregard that.  I consider honesty to the be most important think in life and art, and that is something I will never compromise. 

    Thanks for reading and commenting, though.  Check out my blog for more:  http://www.livejournal.com/users/tharp42

     

     

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