I’ve created a new category titled Accidental Vagabond. This section is part of the answer to the question, how did I get here. How did I become an accidental vagabond? How is it that I am reposting a blog about the death of my cat while I am sitting in an a apartment in Seoul? How are theses things possible? Are they connected? Do they matter? It’s funny to think back on it, but the death of my cat was a starting point for returning back out into the world of travel. It didn’t happen right away, but a few years after Boo died I left the country. I had wanted to leave before, but my cat prevented it. Not that I couldn’t just give her to someone, and then go. I knew and know that’s possible, but I didn’t want to. I loved my cat, my pet, and I chose to stay in places where I was able to have her. That’s what happens to us in life. We make choices, and some of those choices mean giving up other things in life. We have pets, we get married, we have children, we decided to help our parents. There are many things that we choose for better or for worse, and at times we may wonder what would have happened if I made a different choice. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if you made a different choice because you live in the choice you made, but that choice back then does affect you in the present. It built you. It’s part of your foundation.
After my cat died I was free to travel. I didn’t have to worry about her. There was a freedom, but I was happy to have spent the time I did with that precious animal. I know some people don’t think animals have much value in our lives, but for those of you who understand loving and caring for a pet, you know what I mean.
I’m reposting this as a reflection because I’m about to have a change in my life, a new pet. This time it is a different animal. A dog, and the dog is not mine, she belongs to my boyfriend. There are many choices being made, and this choice does affect my ideas of travel. In fact, many ideas or thoughts and day dreams have to change and adapt. I’ve chosen a man and his dog to be apart of my life. We are building a new life, and a new foundation together. I wonder, in a wonder without remorse, but purely curiosity, will we be able to travel the world as I fantasize? If so how? At least years from now I can check back to this post.
My cat died today. She died in my arms. I hope it was the right choice, I hope she was ready. Its difficult to tell with animals. I wasn’t ready. I would never have been ready. I dug her grave this morning, and eerily and somewhat comically she watched. She even peered her head into the grave as I dug. At first I laughed, but then I told her it was too macabre and she should go. Then we watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind until the vet aka Dr. Death came. I didn’t want to let him in. It was all very fast. He said she was very weak and she probably would go fast and she did. She had a couple types of cancer and it was all a race to see which one would kill her first, and neither winner would be a pretty death. That…
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.
Funny thing about this post is that it was posted before I finished writing it. No title, no tags, not even a complete thought, and all kinds of editing mistakes, and it’s had more traffic than most of my posts. Go figure. This is the completed post with an ending and a new title- well an actual title.
A couple of days ago I had to contact both of the schools I had applied to (one in South Korea and the other in China) that I was not able to attend the upcoming school year. It wasn’t because I had changed my mind and things are falling into place here in Portland. Things are exactly as they have always been for me here in Portland; nice, but I’m not doing anything that gives me call to stay put. No, it’s all because of the parts of life that I can’t control. Visas. Well, not even my visa, because I haven’t been able to apply for my visas because I don’t have the documents. I’m waiting for my Criminal Background Check from the FBI and some health insurance so I can take the necessary health test that China requires. In a funny way they’re both kind of silly things to have to wait around for. Oh, I get it, I’m going to work with children and obviously people want their children to be safe, but it is only required that I have an FBI check from the United States, a country in which I have not lived for the past two years. So, of course my record is clean, but all those crimes I committed in Europe are not even on the radar. I didn’t commit any crimes in Europe, I’m not that exciting. Czech Republic had a funny visa rule too. If I had come directly from the United States, I had no need to do a criminal background check from the U.S., but since I came from China, I had to get a criminal background check from China. So, again, I could be a criminal from the U.S., but not in China or any other country I had been living in for six months or longer. In a weird way, China of all places is easier in that sense then the Czech Republic because I just have to wait for the FBI, but to get a background check from China- is absolutely impossible. I mean, the Chinese people at the police station tell you, “Not Possible.” A fairly typical response in all areas of requesting necessary information for any kind of government paperwork.
The FBI’s been backed up. Seems that many people are trying to leave the country, and get jobs that require Federal Background checks. What in the past took 10 to 12 weeks has now been pushed back to 12 to 15 weeks. Three months has now turned to 4 months. This is difficult for an impulsive person like myself. It’s kind of like China, “not possible” to plan a trip in less than three months. Now I’m wondering what to do with my time and how much time I have here actually.
Now what? Well, it’s waiting time. Once the background check comes in then I can reapply for jobs and I’ll see from there. In the meantime, I’ll need to look for some work. A part-time noncommittal job in a city where it is difficult to find work in unless, of course, I was in the tech industry. It certainly gives me more time to research travel blogs. In a brief update, I’ve gone through 23 of 42 blogs, and really only managed to cut out two blogs. I have put them into categories, but I’ve slowed down in my research, which is totally my style.
Update: I finally got on the Oregon Health Care plan which means I can get the health check I need for the Chinese visa application.