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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Sunday, May 15, 2011

An Illusory Romance with my Illusory Girlfriend in a Buddhist Monastery

I saw her in the little office of the Monastery, where the few workers will sit on the floor at their computers. The rain was pelting the temple grounds creating this gravelly mud, and this misty haze fell upon the dragon gargoyles on the roofs, fell on the fir trees that ricochets the echoes of Buddhist chants, that falls on enlightenment, whatever that might be.

But I saw her smiling through the doors in between the dripping of the rain. This was not far from a large stone fountain that bubbled up mountain stream water where liberated folk fetch water from the well.

She had a smile that cut mantras in half, that severed ascetics from their starvation, that for a second made us think that life wasn't about suffering. So, as I sauntered by, I peered in, and was met by her gleaming eyes, and she invited me to come in the little room, and sit on the floor with her mother and this monk. She was eating these little cakes that I can't remember what they are called in Korean. I just recall telling everyone that it in Russian, it is what they call "peroshki" I told this to the Templestay worker, a nice kind man that I really wish I could remember his name. And who began to act as a translator, for I quickly saw that this girl and everyone else there didn't speak a bit of English.

There was this monk in full robes sitting on the floor nearby at a little table pouring tea for everyone. His shaven head wanting to shine with the reflection of the sun that wasn't there. He was a young monk, probably younger than me. And I saw that he was entertaining them, or they were entertaining him. Just then, an old man, the father walks in and sits on the ground. The girl speaks something to him, and it was announced to me that she had told her father that I was her boyfriend in jest. All that I could think to respond was a flippant, "Please don't get my hopes up." But I wonder if it was translated properly.

If you understand Korean culture, what little bit I know, you will understand how comical that is. For I know, a handful of foreigners here who have dated Korean girls for years, and all of them contend that the Korean girls never, never introduce them to their parents. As open and affable as Koreans are, I think the older generation is not too keen on the daughters dating foreigners. Especially licentious ambassadors of the anything-goes West.

The old man, this father, sat crossed legged on the floor, his back to us, as though he didn't approve. As though, the situation was serious. Meanwhile, I was trying to converse with this girl, that I couldn't even speak to, that through the gulf of language, of centuries and culture, of ill-fated timing, that I couldn't touch, nor reach.

Through the interpreter she said that it was okay, that she could rely on reading my expressions. But when I tried talking to her, there were just these 2 eyes that scattered light with the confusion, and made understanding impossible.

After that, I saw her around the temple with her family. She knew all the chants precisely. And I liked the way, she shared her umbrella with her mother. But other than that, our interactions were very limited. I learned her English name was Rose. And whenever we were in a meditational ceremony, I could feel her entering the room.
I left the monastery, without saying goodbye, crammed on a bus, as it sloshed through the rain puddles, Even though, the Templestay guy told me that she was interested in me, I couldn't ever think that she was serious. And how could I be serious? I relayed a message to this Templestay guy to tell Rose, yes, like a freaking middleschooler. Something along the lines of, "I really wish you spoke English. You are very beautiful. You distract me and probably all the monks here."

It seems one of the things I found out from that weekend, that I am bent on one illusion after another. Intent on mirage attachments, not just her, which leads as all these monks would agree, to a very addicting sense of suffering. A ridiculous, comic suffering almost. But nevertheless, a suffering.

My Turn on the Drum

Eventually, I was allowed to strike the drum as well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Marching in the Parade

Because I had my own lotus lantern, which I made earlier that day, I could march in the parade. I didn't realize that til the very end.

Dancing at the Lotus Lantern Festival

This was after the Lotus Lantern Festival in front of a Buddhist Temple, these musicians were playing and people were dancing. I got swept into it too.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Creating Little Artists

Now there was this auction a few weeks ago, back home, before the wild rampage of the tornado, in a place and with people I hold dear. The auction was to benefit a charity work in Honduras. And it is very common at this auction to put up any skill, or any thing, really. A talent or an idea that can be auctioned off, and you can place a bid...all proceeds help to support another idea, where some of these folks go and build houses for the impoverished people of Honduras. And that's one of the loveliest things about this community, each brings to it, something...whether a skill, or an idea, a service, whatever, and nothing is despised. And the things you think are worth something maybe aren't so much, while the things that are little or subtle, they can be worth much more. You never know. All are included. And things can be flipped in a cyclone of worth, letting us know, perhaps, what's really important.

Well, I'm away from this auction hall that takes place every year, and I couldn't help but think that I had a small army of Korean children at my command. So maybe I first thought up the idea as a sort of joke. Well, at least a cute thought. But I offered my auction far across the distant seas, in the form of a bunch of scintillating artwork from a mass of Korean kindergarteners, that the winner of the bid could hang on their fridge, better yet, entirely cover their fridge, and even submerge their whole kitchen in crayon creations from an elementary school in South Korea.

I really didn't expect much. But then I got wind that the winner of the bid was one of the wealthier people of the community, a personality that from all appearances, a practical minded individual, not big on the messy doodlings of children. But he won the bid, and now, all these works were to go to him, and I had no idea how much the bid was for. It worried me. For what I thought would only draw a few dollars and some cute laughter. Now I wasn't so sure.

Ontop of that, I had another difficulty. For Asian children are very big on imitation. They like to copy and duplicate. And they are spectacularly talented in that area. Some of them have supreme artistic craftmanship. But if I just told them to draw anything, whatever they felt. Maybe one or two would be innovators, the rest would follow suit and I would have 50 drawings of a house with maybe Pokemon beside a tree. I didn't want that. I had to orchestrate diversity. Which is a funny sentence to write, much less do. I've already done what I could in encouraging originality. But its something that I've noticed that I'll hit walls with. So I needed a plan.

There is this game that I've played with some of my classes. Its made up of these cards. Half of them have written on them names of nouns like "A Happy Clown" or "The Big Dinosaur". And the other half of them have verbs and another noun. Like "Wears a Funny Hat" or "Likes to Eat Flowers." Now, typically, for you grammarians, the Subject cards had the appropriate match in the Direct Object cards. For instance..."The Pig" matches "Plays in the Mud". Or "His Grandpa" goes with "Drives an Old Car." But I never played this game with them correctly. I always wanted them to think outside the box. I'd switch it up. Makes things a bit fun. Why can't The Pig Drive an Old Car? And why can't His Grandpa Play in the Mud. I've had kids put their foot down and try to argue with me that these are incorrect and did not fit. But I'd stand my position, that in the world of imagination anything was possible. And because they are still children, it wouldn't take them long before they caught on and learned to dwell inside a world were such things happened. They began to make up wacky sentences too.

So with this art project, I passed out these cards that were all mixed up. And told them to draw whatever sentence they got. To give their work a lift from just an ordinary picture that they all had to draw, and definitely to make all their drawings different. So what was produced was a diverse set of highly surreal drawings or paintings of big dinosaurs playing soccer, mothers eating flowers, frogs wearing dresses, fat hippos shopping at the grocery store, babies driving old cars, happy clowns with 8 legs, Grandpas with very big teeth and so forth. And now, I just mailed them all off today. And somehow, I think they may rival Pollock or any other modern or postmodern artist. You could probably put the works up in a Museum and convince the masses that Picasso did them on his death bed and was his statement of his return to childhood.