Day 1: The Purging

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In Bali, three times a day offerings are left for God.

It’s been six months since I wrote my last post. Six months since I’ve posted a photo to my  Simple blog, and more than six months since I have written a poem or a short story. It’s as if I have given up on myself. It isn’t as if. It is as it is.

I do interesting things, at least it appears to be that way on the outside looking in, but I have to forcibly remind myself that my life is interesting or that it has some measure of value. Much of the time I feel disconnected from everything, like I’m a replicant just posing to be a part of the human race in hopes that I don’t get killed by Harrison Ford- although I guess if Harrison Ford or Ryan Gosling were the last people I saw on the planet it might not be so bad.  I travel quite a bit. I live in different countries. These are privileges that not a lot of people get to experience, so I understand the immaturity of complaining of feeling bad. What right do I have to feel bad when I live in a different country-by my own by choice? What right do I have to feel bad to have when I’ve just returned from a vacation in tropical wonder? What right? It isn’t a right. It is an inability to stop the feelings no matter where I go. No matter how beautiful the sunset, no matter how fun the party, no matter how exciting the adventure I can not escape the feeling that I’m fucking all of this up and doing it wrong. I didn’t connect enough, I didn’t have enough fun; I don’t look good in the photos; my photos aren’t spectacular; I feel lonely; I’m outside everything; I don’t feel it enough; I’m not adventurous enough; I’m not wise enough; intense enough; beautiful enough; young enough; never, never, enough. Who do I live for? It’s supposed it is me, but I’m not really certain.

A few years ago, I discovered that traveling doesn’t save me. I now know that no matter where in the world I am, and no matter how amazing the place is I’m also there too, and if I am not in the right head space then the place will not and does not change me. Sometimes, when I speak or tell stories to people I feel like I am lying. Like I am a fraud. I’ll walk away from a conversation and think to myself, I talk too fucking much. Why do I talk? Is that story even real? I have grown enough to have had many of self realizations, but not enough to know how to change the way I think about myself within those realizations. Meditation, yoga, self-help books, therapists, I suppose I’d try religion if it wasn’t so vulgar in its abuse of people. Still, the seeking of spirit is still there. I can’t see the progress. I’m sure there has been some, but I just can’t see it. I had a lot of dreams that I ignored for the same feelings that I have in my travels. Not enough, not good enough. I know that everything takes practice and experience, but I have the hardest time applying this well known truth to my own life. Somehow, I am outside of all of that truth. Anyone can be anything they want except for me. I’ll never improve; I’ll never be good at something; I’ll never have a successful relationship; I’ll never be worthy of the life I have been given; I’ll never live it to the fullest no matter how many hashtags of “livetothefullest” I post to my instagram. I am aware of the ridiculousness of this thinking, but training myself out of this thinking has been the most challenging thing in my life. It’s a constant battle. I’m a tired warrior fighting a never ending war.

The first time I left the U.S. I went to Europe. I was 25. I was heartbroken from a lost relationship that I thought was going to last forever (even though I didn’t always treat it as if I had believed it was forever). I thought Europe would save me. It would feed my soul and I would forget my former love. That’s how it is in the movies and the books. You never read a book about the person that goes to a new country and spends the entire time crying over their former lover leaving them. This is because no one wants to read that story. We know that feeling and we don’t like it. We want the good stuff. I didn’t get the good stuff because I couldn’t open to it. I was too busy wallowing in my self. When you can’t let go of an idea or a vision of what you thought you wanted or believed you would have, you can never be open to receive your new vision. This makes you rigid, closed, and disconnected to the magic around you. I know this because there is magic all around me that I miss every day, and I have missed for years. I see the magic in my friends. I see the magic in strangers. I’m grateful that I have the eyes to see at least that much. Europe didn’t change me the first time, or the second or the third time. At some point, perhaps it was in the 13 year break I took from traveling, I realized that I had wanted the place to change me. If I could go to a new place I could be a new person, but this never happened because places don’t change us- they effect us, but we change within ourselves. I couldn’t change the person I was to match the image or idea of the place I was in. I knew that it didn’t matter where I was in the world, that if I didn’t work on myself then I was never going to be happy or find the happiness I was searching for. Am I actually searching for happiness? I’m not even sure of that. If you don’t know what you are searching for then you most certainly will never find it.

Now, when I go to a new place, I don’t expect it to change me. I know it will effect me, but change me…no… I must find the way to do that within me, and that can happen anywhere even at home. Although, China changed me, but it was more likely my mother dying while I was in China that truly changed me. Well, not changed, but set the wheels in motion. Three year’s later and I’m still dealing with her death. Last night, after returning from a trip in Bali, I was overwhelmed with how lonely I felt in Korea. I looked at the room I was in. The closed walls, the tight space, the towering high-rises, the silence in the elevators, the lack of eye contact, the hours sometimes days without communicating to a person in person. I compared this to the open space of the place I had stayed in while in Bali. Every morning I had the staff to speak with, and how friendly they were, how easy it was to speak with people, how Balinese people would always say hi when you walk past on the street; the noises, the daily offerings of banana baskets of flowers on the ground and on the doorsteps. The openness of everything. My space had been huge, the sky had been huge, and suddenly, I felt all the smallness of my room in Korea. I was struck with an overwhelming loss. I had missed my mother. I missed being tied to someone, to belonging to someone. I think my friends would ask me why I don’t leave Korea if I feel so lonely there, and I suppose I would give the same answer as I had in China. I just want to see it through. Now, as I am about to begin a graduate program in TESOL, I will possibly have to stay even longer in this lonely yet intriguing country. I know when I leave it is unlikely I will ever return to Korea. I did say the same thing about China, and now I would like to go back to visit, but Korea, doesnt have the same effect. I have no animosity toward the country, but it is a place for the young. Korea doesn’t want us aging people, it doesn’t even want it’s own aging people-unless they are rich. Maybe there is a bitterness in this from me, not being able to stop the process of my aging, and Korea here to remind me of it. I’ve always struggled with loneliness and now I am on my way to invisible. I’m not afraid of it. I am painfully uncomfortable with it. The pathway to acceptance is a painful one. It’s less traveled because it is unpleasant. There is also no promise that you will feel better once you’ve reached the end of that road. I think only death brings that peace, if you can not find the peace within yourself while you are alive. I believe this peace is possible, but I don’t believe it’s possible for me. That’s my demon. What is all this about? What is this self-flagellating about? It is my purging. The beginning of a new task. I new process that I have added to my lists of processes to teach my self to enjoy the process.

There have been some times when people told me that I was talented, but I never allowed myself to believe them. Which is insulting to the person praising because you discredit their point of view by not taking the compliment, but most of us are selfish in our thinking, and we don’t see the gift that people are giving us. We wait for the insults because for some reason those are more believable. I’ve forgotten my praises, except one, and I imagine I remembered it because for years I thought of it as an insult. Once a teacher described me as tenacious. When I first heard this it made my heart drop. It was during a certificate ceremony when myself and others were receiving our degrees from a writing program. This same teacher had previously praised all the other students with words about their work, and their talents, and how people should look for their work in the future. When it was my turn he said nothing of my talent and nothing of my work, only that I was tenacious. I felt dejected by this statement. It yet again reinforced my belief that I was talentless, and that I was not enough. I also felt like it wasn’t accurate. If I was so tenacious then why did I quit acting? Why did I quit writing? Why didn’t I pursue the other arts I desired like dancing, or art or photography? I gave up every dream- how is that tenacious? Yet, as I look back on his comment, I know that it is the truest thing said about me. I am tenacious, even though I don’t always face my life in full awareness, I don’t give up. The fact that I am alive is a sign of my tenacity. I have stood at the edge of a window frame on the 13 floor, at the edge of a busy street, and the lip of a bridge, and just wondered if I could just let go and end this life. Those are not even my darkest moments, and yet, I hold on. Even after the death of my mother the most important person in my life, I still hold on. Even when I don’t know why or what I am holding onto I hold on. As if I am digging my soul out of the earth I grasp to improve my being and to grow. I search, and I finally know what I search for. I search for my freedom and my joy.

There were times when I was younger and I felt I had something to offer; when I could feel passion in my veins, when I felt like my inner self was bigger than my outer self and I longed for a bigger body that could fit my soul. My skin felt tight around my inner being. I want this feeling to return. I make these tiny painful steps toward rebuilding my inner life. It feels like rehabilitation from an accident I don’t remember. I need the physical therapy, but I don’t know why I need it. I started listening to podcast about change, reading books about change, motivating my inner thoughts to be aware of my choices about holding on to or letting go of my feelings. I started focusing on my habits and trying to change my life through changing my habits, like the habit of not liking any choice I make. This is habitual. It is habitual to think I’m not enough. Here is the point of this purge: I give myself 30 day challenges. 30 days of meditation every morning. 30 days of yoga. 30 days of not buying coffee. 30 days of waking up at 6:00 a.m. It can be anything. Behind every 30 day is the motivation and the intention to better myself by facing my habits and changing them. My measure of success is completing the 30 days. An even greater measure of success is turning that challenge into a habit. 30 days of letting shit go (this is a tough one). This here is 30 days of writing.

Day one is this confessional. I have four blogs. Poetry, photography, short stories, and this one. It doesn’t matter where I post or how much I write as long as I do it every day. What’s the intention the motivation? To be a good writer? To be prolific? To be seen? No. The intention is to make this writing a habit. A real habit. That my day doesn’t feel complete if I don’t write. To feel cleansed after writing. This is my intention. I don’t know if I will ever feel like I am enough or feel connected to this earth and the people in it, but maybe one day I will. My only legacy will be what I place down in a public place. It may not be much of a legacy, but because I am a human being in this world reaching out to grasp something, the same as all the billions of other human beings on this planet, I feel a need for a legacy. A small legacy and fantasy legacy, but a legacy all the same. To me that is writing.

With all of the self induced suffering and suffering caused from living in the world, and the apathy that leads to wanting to give up on this life, I still want to live an extraordinary life. I want to be amazing. I want to be amazing to me. I want to receive the magic, and if it takes me a life time to get there I will still try. There are times in my life when I can feel it. The beauty the enormous beauty of it all. I don’t know what gave me the gift in that moment to see life, but I’m so incredibly grateful to have received it. I want more of it. And I know it is there even if I don’t always believe it is meant for me. Life is fleeting. I’ll ride this suffering like a dragon into a storm. I don’t know if the storms will pass, but I’ll ride to the edge of the world, and if you want to grab my tail, you are welcome to do so. Purged.

Day one.

 

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Praying to Gods in Warsaw

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The day was sweltering. Thirty-seven degrees. That’s ninety-eight for the folks back in the U.S. of A.  In my humble opinion anything between thirty-four to forty is terrible. That all converts as nineties to one hundred which translates to hot-as-f*#k. It is meant to be like this all week. I suppose we can all thank the climate change that too many continue to deny or ignore. It troubles me that I am going to live through this horrific process. I would like to be as selfish as the rich and the ignorant,  and just expect it to all take place when I’m dead and gone. My nordic blood can’t take this shit. If I have nordic blood. Where ever the blood is from it’s somewhere where it was colder, and it isn’t adapting rapidly enough, but nothing is because unbeknownst to some the planet, and it’s inhabitants, are not software- not yet anyway. I suppose I should fall of this soapbox.

A fly dies at my feet, and I can hear the last buzz of it’s life as it’s legs bend in rigid rigor mortis. It appears to be a natural death, but I blame the heat. The other flies buzz in a funeral procession.

This day I have wandered to a Palace on an island, and a huge park in Warsaw. I left early in the morning in order to have some time outside before the heat. This is my fourth time in Warsaw, but I only have a day or hours to spend in the city so I have to see parts of the city in sections. I don’t regret the choice of going to the park. It wasn’t too difficult to wake early because of my hostel mates.

I’m staying at a shoddy but acceptable little hostel in a four room dorm. I had this ridiculous idea that maybe the four rooms which are a higher price would have less of a chance of having some party people. I was really tired after the first Angloville and in need of rest, but it was foolish of me. If I didn’t have to try and make my money last for six weeks- including accommodations and transportation- then I would have spent the money on a single room. Air-conditioning would be nice too.

When I opened the door to the room I knew immediately I was in trouble. The people were not in the room but the room was a disaster as if teenage girls had blown up in the room. I wasn’t too far off. Three young Polish girls- maybe twenty were having a party weekend in Warsaw. I forget about the weekenders. As if everyone lives like I do. I have to imagine myself as a twenty something going to spend the weekend in the city (which would be San Francisco) it isn’t all just for backpackers and travelers, people do live here. I foolishly continue to live my life as if it is in the center. In a way it is, but I pass through other’s centers, and judging by the glare and scowl of one of the girls on seeing me unpacking my bag in her room I had invaded their girl weekend. Feeling’s mutual love, I thought, our centers just collided.

Since they were young women on the mission to party I prayed to the Gods of Vodka and wished that the girls would hit the city at night and stay out until at least five in the morning, and the Gods answered my prayers, only I didn’t trust in the Gods at first. As I was returning to the hostel after wandering around the city, I passed the women on the street. They were heading out into the night. I smiled with a jubilant glee. If I could just fall into a deep sleep I should be able to get a couple of hours of sleep. Unfortunately, it was hot and I slipped in and out of restless sleep feeling anxious about not falling asleep before they came home. I kept dreaming about being woken up by drunks and I even had a dream that another bed was shoved into the room. I did finally fall asleep, but woke to the sound of someone struggling to open the door. Even sober the door was difficult to open so I knew they must have been having a hell of a time trying to get in. There was a dusty light in the room meaning that it must have been around six in the morning. Good job girls, I thought to myself, that was an hour longer than I had hoped. Only two had return and immediately they both feel asleep and I feel fast asleep too. I woke again at eight a.m. as the third girl came home. She tried to wake her friends, but they were not having it, and it forced her to go to bed. She climbed onto the top bunk and caught eye-contact with me. It was the scowling girl. She gave me half bewildered half scowl glare and I returned it with a smile. She had no idea how proud of her I was that she returned so late. The girls had allowed me the sleep I needed. The Vodka Gods answered. I got up soon after the scowler passed out. And prepared to leave for my day. I looked back at the three young women tangled in their bedding. They’ll be up around two I thought. I knew all this from personal experience.

As I walked out of the hostel toward the park I decided that I would make an offering to the party Gods; pour a shot out to the Vodka Gods, and pray that the girls have another all night away-rager. If only I could pray away the heat.

Another fly dropped dead as I typed. I looked down at the fly carnage. There were three dead flies. It’s the heat, I thought, or there is something deadly in the air. A small bird landed on a candle and began to eat the wax. I didn’t think this wax eating was good for anyone, but I had to let these things go and just pour the Vodka on the floor.

Final Rejection Letter… Well Not Really…

“Applicants who have not been notified of admission or placement on the waitlist by April 2, 2013 should assume they will not be offered admission for 2013-2014. Because of the high number of applications and limited staff, it is not possible to send out denial notifications until late spring. Applicants who wish to confirm their application status sooner, may contact the Programs in Writing after April 16, 2013.”

-Love UCI Irvine

I always thought to assume made an ASS of U and ME. I’m sorry…, but this is bullshit. The world is full of bullshit and bullshit makers. This school charges $88.00 to apply for their program (it may be $75, still a lot for my paltry pockets). This fee is non-refundable. I knew the fee was non-refundable going into the application process. I also knew it was competitive and that I might not get in, but I also believed I was good enough to make the cut. I still believe that. A lot of people are good enough, and a lot of people are exceptional, there are a lot of people in the world. But, if they had this little notice on their website before I applied, I would not have applied. I do not like sending my money to a company, oh I mean school, that has so little interest in the people who apply- other than their money- that they can’t even spare a rejection e-mail. In the days of letters I would have more understanding for this limited staff and high number bullshit excuse, but in today’s computer land it doesn’t fly. The entire application is electronic. They mean to say that in the development of their application software they couldn’t put in a canned response button that says, “sorry but thank you we had many excellent applications, don’t give up” or “sorry we didn’t think you were a good fit.” Whatever. I worked for a software development company I know this can be done. Google has a canned response. Brown, Syracuse, and San Diego were able to send an e-mail rejection. Irvine can’t afford to send a “denial notification”. Please. Bullshit.

Denial notification. I like that. It makes me laugh. It’s like the PC word for rejection letter. I wasn’t rejected. I was denied. I should change my page titled ‘My Wonderful Rejections Letters’ to ‘My Wonderful Denials’.

Anyway… that’s over. Now what?

What’s the next move on the great plan of my life? I have no idea. Right now all I wish is that I could get unemployment, drink wine, and watch Game of Thrones all day. That’s about my level of ambition.

They can keep their late spring denial why waste the limited staff’s time and money on a single sentence now.