A Brief Delay in Our Programming

Dearest friendship,

As you know, it pains me viscerally to leave you without your regularly scheduled discharge of verbiage. Whenever I know I will be out of comm range for any length of time, I usually write like a frenzied madman, churning gems of linguistic fortitude out at a wearying pace to slake your thirsts while I am away. As a travel blogger I must, occasionally, travel to fill up the think tanks. And very occasionally I am also behind on my typical writing output. And thus we are at a conundrum: I must give you this filler, this meandering replacement succour, and hope that you will be patient with me until I can cram more words and pictures down your gullets in about a week.

In short: I am off to see Country #27 in my lifetour of this great planet, and I’ve got nothing for you. The first post in my queue for when I return is about said jet-set lifestyle and how it makes me ludicrously irresponsible and probably unpleasant to talk to. Huzzah!

See you on the road.

Stalling Tactics

Mart. Luther

Here, for no reason, is a picture of a book made my Martin Luther.

Faithful readers,

Know, if nothing else, I feel deeply beholden and committed to providing you with fresh verbiage. Even now I am toiling in the word mines, chipping away at gleaming, fibrous adjectives and adverbs, preparing them to be refined into the glorious, perspicacious gems I usually present to you. My face is sweat-slick and my fingers are stained with soot and printer ink. My back aches from using the pick-saw–a pickaxe mixed with a chainsaw–which, as you know, is the tool of most writers. Letters and pronouns litter the ground of my home, waiting to be caressed and loved, shaped into something meaningful, something to be consumed by the ravenous, word-hungry monsters that make up my audience. I feel your hunger pangs, your need, and I feel like a pile of useless garbage when I cannot provide.

Unfortunately, I am not paid to sit in my pyjamas and type my laborious anecdotes into my laptop. I am paid to educate a flock of international tots, and also to write their report cards. If you’ve ever seen a report card before, know that it is essentially a compressed, flattened sliver of a teacher’s soul, rent from their very being and hammered into something presentable for you via hours and hours of tireless work and tedious record-checking. If you collected all of your children’s report cards and smushed them together, you could probably clone a whole new teacher from the amount of DNA you’d collected in teacher tears staining the pulp of the paper.

Also, as of right now Suzhou is in the midst of a massive smog-in, where the pollution has decided to pull up a seat and hang around for well over a week. The air smells like a burnt Mountain Dew bottle, and inhaling it feels like smoking a cigarette backwards, and also you eat the cigarette afterwards. The sky is the colour of rectal cancer. It’s not a good time, is all I’m saying.

Content is percolating in my blog folder. There are heaps of unfinished posts waiting to be loved. And they will be loved soon enough. Possibly when I’m on a 15 hour flight to Canada for Christmas. Until then, I hope that at least one of the metaphors or similes above has caused your facial muscles to flex uncontrollably into rictus or, failing that, a smile.

See you on the road,

Stupid Ugly Foreigner

Programming Announcement

The path

Korea: two years later, and it’s still pretty awesome.

Today, I have been in Korea for 2 years.

I have been writing this blog for even longer. I have 200-and-something posts, and probably around 200,000 words spread across these well-thumbed electronic pages. Laughs have been larfed. Tears shed. Vomit erupted to the back of throats and then receded. Neurons gently stimulated by intriguing configurations of the English language. Pictures looked at. Things eaten.

I’ve given you my words, and those are about the only thing I know how to give, so I’m glad you all took them.

I have one more post for tomorrow (I think you’ll understand why I saved it for last), and then I’m going to be going on a little bit of a hiatus. I will be traveling for nearly four months through southeast Asia and India. I will have shoddy, irregular access to the internet. I will not have a laptop with which to properly accrue and ruminate my words, swallowing them back and regurgitating them onto my keyboard several times before pushing them out for you, the reader, to sup upon like little cow-birds (my metaphors kind of mutated there). I won’t be able to upload or manipulate my photos, I won’t be able to write nearly as much, and I won’t be able to concentrate and properly give you words in the way I want to give them to you. If I tried to maintain this blog the way it is while on the road it would require a lot less being on and enjoying the road; if I tried to give you some watered-down simulacrum to tide you over until I could make some real words, I would feel pretty dissatisfied with the product.

As such, this is a temporary goodbye. I will be back one day, with stories and pictures and, universe willing, a whole new place to be stupid and ugly and foreign in. New lands to stomp. New foods to eat. New people to meet, new things to say, and whole slews of topics to be neurotic about.

Until that day comes, I want to thank you all sincerely for reading, commenting, linking, and simply hanging out around here in whatever ways you have over these two years. I never expected to get anyone to read this beyond those few people I forced it upon. It is overwhelmingly ingratiating to have so many wonderful people appreciating the words I put out and giving me their own in return.

You will hear from me again soon (tomorrow, specifically, and then again in the future, more vaguely). Stay safe. Travel hard. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Write.

Michael Em. Over and out.
A nice day on the pier

Housecleaning in the Echo Chamber

Hello, gentle readers. I know that you are out there, funneling words from my fingertips directly into your own eyeballs, and I am flattered that people go on reading this blog on a regular basis. But sometimes, I run out of things to say. Despite living in another country and daily experiencing weird things beyond my previous imaginings, I find nothing is humorous or bizarre enough to preserve in splendorous internet amber. I wither and my fingers twitch over a sullen, silent keyboard as I try to figure out what the hell to talk to you guys about.

Now is not one of those times, mind you (I’ve got like six posts gestating on my flash drive), but it’s happened before. It will happen again. To insulate myself against the ensuing panic when I can’t think of what to write, I bring thee this: Ask Me Anything. A place where you, the viewer, can express your deepest, innermost queries about me and my life, as I know these issues consume your very spirit even as we speak. Ask me about life, Korea, and teaching, or just tell me how much you love and worship/loathe and despise me and everything I put to words. (Or, do it by email! stupiduglyforeigner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Onward, internet soldiers.