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Trippin’. I did that this weekend, in a few ways, though I don’t suppose I want to talk about all of them. (No, not tripped out, don’t worry, Mom.)

The main sense was, well, going on a trip… again. This time, I went to Seoul. The first thing I did was to pay a visit to my new favorite travel agent, and pay him to get me a visa to reside in India for two months. I’m supposed to get that posted back to me with my tickets early next week. After that, I bought a second-hand flute to keep me in musical practice during my stay in India. I was thinking about picking up a guitar and learning to play that, but I am convinced I would find it far too confusing, with all those strings so close together. So I decided on a flute instead. I also got a nice sweater to wear because Seoul turned out to be colder than I expected.

We had a gig in Seoul on the weekend, at Bbang. It’s our regular gig venue for shows in Seoul, and every time we go there we see really nice people, like the Plastic People this last time. We did also see a band that was slightly torturous, which we’ve dubbed Migraine… they basically playing a few hours of noise, without singing and without stopping. It was just a long musical wankfest. Now, I sometimes go atonal, but I don’t subject audiences to it for hours on end.

Anyway, after escaping that performance, we tried go to a Jim Jil Bang, a kind of sauna where you can sleep for rather little money. I managed to fall asleep but everyone else found it impossible so I was roused from my sleep to stumble along in the dark until we found a yeogwan. It probably only took ten minutes or so, but it felt like a half an hour.

The sleep did me good, because for a whole bunch of silly reasons I was feeling pretty down. On Sunday I was feeling better. We went to the recording studio we’ll be working at in Seoul, which is at Cabaret Music. Or is it Cavaret? I don’t know, to be honest. But I do know that the people we’re working with there are really nice and patient and cool. They said, “Look, we want to work with you to get the sound you want. So if you want something, we can work together, and try different things, and see…” This is the opposite of our last recording experience, where the engineer told us repeatedly, “No, I don’t like that sound. I won’t try it.” Several of us repeatedly had to insist that some little experiments would be tried to get the right sound. “Just TRY it!” I remember saying over and over, sometimes discovering it was a bad idea but sometimes discovering it was actually a good idea. Anyway, the people at the studio we’re at now seem likelier to be offering us ideas we haven’t even thought of, instead of just resisting our ideas. Which is a cool thing. I hope I’m not being too optimistic here.

Then I took off across town to see Sun Hwa. It was a good meeting. We had coffee and then dinner. The coffee was had at a new coffeeshop in Apgujeong, and it was very artistically served: the milk was mixed with the coffee in such as way as to produce the image of a heart or a flower on the surface of the cup. Apparently this is one of the trademarks of that particular company. We took pictures of the coffee, which I’ll upload later tonight when I get home (I am posting this from work) but I didn’t ask to take a picture of Sun Hwa. I would have liked to, but I know she really dislikes having her photo taken, and especially when she has her hair up, as she usually does after a day of work. It was really good to see her again. As usual we didn’t run out of things to say to one another. In fact, I had more to say to her but there wasn’t enough time. She saw me off on the bus to the subway station and thoughtfully called, worried I might get lost. But I managed to get on the bus home just fine, of course…

On the bus I finished reading a book by Vandana Shiva called Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply
. I’ll have more to say about it later, but reading this book gave me a big headstart on the kind of things tha my novel is going to revolve around. It was going to be crazy-ass far-edge physics conspiracy, but now I’ve realized that for my novel, crazy-ass far-edge agrotech/biotech conspiracy is far more suited to the story I want to tell.

The idea for my novel has really coalesced in my mind now, and I am feeling excited about the opportunity I’ll soon have to write it all out. I’m still working on figuring out what certain characters need to be doing, and how characters’ paths will cross, but some of that is getting clearer the more I think about and experiment with ideas, something I do while sitting on buses. What’s that line in the Belle & Sebastian song? It was in The State That I Am In, I think; yes, that was it. Something like “Now I’m feeling dangerous, riding on city buses/ for a hobby; it’s sad.” Well, I do have some scary, dangerous ideas in my head that bubble about as I ride on city buses. This novel I’m working on is definitely the “writing about the future in the hopes of preventing what I am writing about” kind of SF. It’s not a future I’d want to live in, or even visit. What scares me is that it is the kind of future I think big agribusiness and trade organizations would love for us all to live in.

Anyway, in less than a month I will be in India, perhaps by this time next month even already in Dharamsala. The idea shocks me, scares me a little too. I’m excited, I just hope I don’t lose anything there… or lose out on something by going there. The sense of risk I feel is not as strong as my desire to learn what I will learn when I am there… and yet I still sense it all too keenly. But I will say no more about that here.

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