Turning three decades

Thanks, Google!

Thanks, Google!

It’s my last year in my 20’s, and for some strange reason, I feel really excited. I’m literally at the edge of a new era.

The past year up to now has been truly transformative for me, and I mean that in a good way. I feel so different from who I was a year ago and it feels strangely liberating.

I’d like to personally(?) thank those around me — and even you, my two or three readers — for staying with me as I moulted and transformed. If you remember, 2013 was a little rough on me, but 2014 made up for it real good. I’m only hoping 2015 finishes it right before I finally turn 30.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to get back on some resolutions I made last year.

#1: Plan. Plans don’t always work, but planning gets your head straight for the important stuff. Also, don’t just have one; have several of them. Life is rarely linear, and following a single path can sometimes lead to a dead-end.

Plans have been a little slow, but they’re still there, and, at least, they’re moving. I’ve still got my eyes on Canada, despite some distractions and the financial challenges involved. Alternatives are also in place.

#2: Never lose sight of your goals. If and when you do, pause to realign. Even if it takes you half a year’s time; you need to realign.

There are days when I doubt what I’m doing or where I’m going, but generally, my goals have become more solid.

My linguistic goals have certainly moved forward and my other scholastic oaths to Athênê have been kept. I’ve been keeping a diary of things I’ve learnt, brushed up on my Korean and Spanish, and even started learning Irish. I did pretty well on my DELF and IELTS, too.

#3: Question and examine your goals as you go along. They change as you change, too.

Yessir, I have. I’m pretty sure I still want to emigrate, but it’s very important to know (and remember) why I’m doing it and what for.

#4: Each day, be more “you” and who you want to be. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you’ll ever have. Don’t let yourself down for anyone else.

Oh, man. I cannot stress how important this is to me now and how I’ve learnt how to love myself more these past few months.

I am reminded of Eartha Kitt’s words on love and compromise:

I fall in love with myself, and I want someone to share it with me. I want someone to share me, with me.

Damned straight, Eartha.

#5: Let your hair down more often. Let it go. Even if you have to tell this to yourself in 25 languages.

When I said that I’d let it go, some people thought I’d become more of free-spirited Anna (or perhaps be more like who they think I should be). What I actually meant was, speak my mind more often and more openly.

And I have. I’ve never been prouder of the things I’ve said to people’s faces. I still think cunning diplomacy is the way to go for me, but I realise that there will be days when I’ll have to tell people to just fuck off.

#6: Smile more. You might feel just as happy whether you smile or not (because you’re Ti like that), but smiling changes the people around you, too. I’m sure you’d be happier to know that they’re happy.

Following up on acting more ‘me’, I have decided to smile when I feel like it. A good friend of mine told me that, “the closer you get to Dionysos, the harder a time you’ll have trying to hide your authentic self”. See #5.

#7: Do not be discouraged by failure. I know you’re an incredibly brutal perfectionist, but you need to learn to let these feelings go. Advance through trial and error. Mistakes are best avoided by precaution, but if it’s the fear of making them that’s preventing you from exploring and expanding your comfort zone, to hell with that! Just do it.

Well, I’m still an incredibly brutal perfectionist, but I think I’m a lot more forgiving now? At least, I’d like to think so. I don’t need to convince myself that “everything happens for a reason” to forgive myself and move forward. Shit happens all the time, so just keep on walking.

#8: Talk to people. Please. You need to get out there and meet new people. You can keep your small circle of trusted souls, but expand your network. Expand your horizon.

I’m quite proud to say that I’ve done a pretty good job in this aspect. In addition to building a more solid network of friends, allies, and kindred spirits, I’ve also talked to several strangers randomly. Twice in French, and in a particular instance, with no less than the French ambassador!

Keep ’em coming, Hermês.

#9: Love yourself a little more. Self-pity isn’t going to get you anywhere good or far. A lot of people probably love you more than you know. Do them and yourself a favour by loving yourself more.

I’ve still got some old issues hanging about, but I’d like to think that I’m loving myself a lot more. See #4. It’s truly important to know your self-worth.

I’m really, really excited for this year.

One year ends, another begins, still quite lucky!

Last Christmas, as you might have seen here, I had lots of money to spend on the holidays. This year, I only had a little over a thousand pesos in my pocket (roughly $20), and it wasn’t even in my pocket; it was in my piggy bank! I wish there were more, but it was all that little golden pig could carry: 200 pieces of 5 peso coins.

Hail, Singh the Golden, the Magnificent, the Stupendous!

Here’s Singh, inspecting how much gold the little pig was able to keep for 2013.

Fortunately, I’ve got a very supporting family and the most generous of friends, so I never needed to spend any of that on any of the days I was jobless. I’m still unemployed, by the way–on my fifth month now–but I’ve got a good feeling (and I’m good at feelings) that all that’s going to change very soon. Immensely. The period of purification is ending, the mist is parting, and the path ahead seems clearer. Still quite lucky, even to the very end of 2013.

As soon as I received word from the Dionysian oracle of Eugene that great things were coming, I promised the Gods I would spend what little I had on a feast, all from my own pocket. It would thus be a feast in thanksgiving and honour of every god and un-god who’s ever helped me in 2013, especially through the darker times.

Here’s the small feast as presented before the All-Gods on Christmas Day, right before being shared with the family:

hhk

Dates, fruit, olive oil, wine, and a nice triple chocolate cake. All for less than $20. Not bad, eh?

There’s still some wine left, which is perfect, so I don’t have to spend so much tomorrow on New Year’s Eve. A little of the old to begin the New Year? Sounds right to me.

Hail Hermês! Hail Dionysos! For friends and family and feasting, I will for ever thank you. With you, my cup has never been and will never go empty. Much of my love from my heart to yours, dearest ones.

They say one should constantly remind oneself of what one wants

tumblr_mvesrxNDq01rl6dpbo1_500

So, here I go:

One day in the near future, I’m going to see Riverdance live.

I’m going to visit Ireland and maybe have a house there.

I’m going to walk under an oak tree. I may even climb it.

I’m going to save Irish Gaelic.

I’m going to be really fluent in it.

I’m going to see Heartbeat of Home very, very soon.

I’m going to take up formal Irish dancing —

— and flamenco, too!

I’m going to reunite with my relatives in Lebanon and Argentina.

I’m going to dance dabke with them.

I’m going to step into the house of my great grandfather’s house in Fouara.

I’m going to pick olives and dates and oranges.

I’m going to pray at a cedar tree, beneath the White Mountains.

I’m going to pick cherries in Canada.

I’m going to live there with my family. We’ll have a really nice garden.

I’m going to collect maple sap for maple syrup.

I’m going to pick apples and make apple pie.

I’m going to study Norse religion in Norway —

— or Ancient History at Cambridge.

I’m going to be a badass professor of sociolinguistics or history.

I’m going to speak at least 5 languages.

I’m going to discover something explosive in the field of science.

I’m going to change things for the better wherever I go.

I’m going to make sure boys can freely love other boys and girls can love other girls.

I’m going to meet new interesting people and make friends with them.

I’m going to bake the best goddamn bread in Montréal.

I’m going to take my mother around the world.

I’m going to run my hands through fields of lavender in Provence.

I’m going to honour the memories of my ancestors wherever I go.

I’m going to visit Vigan with my grandmother, then take her to a trip to South Korea.

I’m going to be an amazing bodhrán player, fiddler, or tin whistler —

— or all of them.

I’m going to meet my idols, shake their hands (or hug them), and have a nice conversation with them.

I’m going to visit a really cool theme park with my brother and cousins.

I’m going to build a really nice backyard for my cat and dog.

I’m going to make my grandmothers become great grandmothers to three wonderful, beautiful kids.

I’m going to love them with all my heart and do what’s best for them.

I’m going to consider their thoughts whenever I decide on anything.

I’m going to step foot in Knossos.

I’m going to swim in the Aegean with my friends.

I’m going to leave coins or sweets for Hermês wherever I go.

I’m going to see Udaipur with my adopted sister. We’re going to do puja everyday.

I’m going to tie myself to really awesome people who will love me for all that I am.

I’m going to see the world with my bestest bro-friend.

I’m going to help my other friends get to where they want to go.

I’m going to have enough —

— or more.

I’m going to be really happy with what I’ve done so far.

I’m going to see most of these accomplished before I turn 40, and then I can add more.

Image

[Images from somewhere in Tumblr-land I no longer remember.]

I feel I need to get this out of my chest before I explode

I want out. I need to go. I don’t belong here.

It’s not just the corruption. It’s not just the dumbfucks and the butthurts and the pollution and the prevailing culture of hypocrisy, mediocrity, and bore. You’ll find those anywhere. It’s not because I’m going through a quarter-life crisis right now and listening to Patrick Watson (though the feeling has certainly intensified as a result).

It’s because I don’t belong here–I’ve never belonged here, even as a young boy. Perhaps it’s my Western heritage talking or perhaps it’s mostly me, I’m not sure. But, it’s the recurring sadness, the feeling of being the oddball, being alone, the feeling of not “belonging” that gets to me … deep, deep within me. It’s the feeling of helplessness, being restless, the feeling of not being appreciated (or meaningless appreciation if appreciated at all), and the feeling that I’ll never get anywhere if I stay.

This place feels like exile and I’m just waiting for the right time to return somewhere else. It’s like my brain isn’t synced to this place. I just want to go home. I mean, I am home. I love the feeling of physically staying here in our house with my family, but that feeling withers away when I walk out through the door. It feels like I’m in a foreign country outside. I need to feel at home even when I’m on the bus, at work, or at a café. (Don’t we all?)

My friends ask me if I could find it in my heart to be happy here. I am happy. I’m always generally happy and thankful. I’m happy to be with my family. No offence, but at least I’m not in Afghanistan or North Korea. I don’t have to deal with the Taliban or dictators. I’m actually in a pretty good place. My rights are protected; people can’t stone me for homosexuality or polyamory. Life is generally cheap and I could get a job with my English anytime.

But, the truth is, I could be a lot happier. I could better chase my dreams somewhere else. I actually could live my dreams somewhere else. I just don’t see that happening here. I never did.

What do I really want? Well, I want foliage; red, orange, and amber. I want to pick apples. I want to make apple pie from the apples I pick. I want to stomp on grapes. I want to walk under an oak tree. I want to climb an oak tree. I want to walk through fields of lavender. I want to pick and smell the lavender. I want a white Christmas and make a real wreath. I want to put up holiday decorations that actually mean something. I want to bake bread. I want to make cheese. I want to dance. I want to dance with actual people who know that Irish hardshoe isn’t tap dancing. I want to meet other Pagans, serious ones. I want to teach Linguistics or Ancient History in a university where people take learning seriously–where flipping through history books is their passion–and not just a place to get a degree and work an 8-hour job, marry, have kids, dream of buying a car, dream of buying a house, and retire at 60 (possibly with neither car nor house). I don’t want that, but that’s exactly what people expect you to aim for here. Not that I care what other people think … My family supports me and that’s all that matters, but there’s so few of us here and so many of them out there.

I want people who have burning passions and can fight for them. I want fierceness in conviction not a shrug. I want to pick apples, bake bread, and be a professor. You could never do that here. If I wanted to live as a farmer, I’d have to give up blogging because there’s no way I can make pay Internet bills from digging up earth. Farmers are practically serfs here and teachers don’t get a lot of credit, either.

I’m a brilliant young man, modesty aside, and full of hope and love for the world and her gods. I need a place that can see and appreciate that–truly appreciate how valuable a person who knows how to map human migration patterns with his eyes closed, write in 10 different writing systems, and read in 24 accents. I need a country that can take me in, foster my unique talents, and not just send me off to another country to be someone else’s serf.

Some people say I’ve idealised certain countries because of this. Well, at least, I can do that and not lie to myself, not by much. My father knew all this. He wanted to get us all out, too. I was so excited when he told me. We were all so excited … That didn’t happen, needless to say, but I think it’s about time I start working on that again.

Some people might say I shouldn’t ask what my country can do for me blah-blah what I can do for my country blah-blah. I am doing a good job at that, I think. I’m a very good citizen; I pay taxes, I don’t break any laws, I use the pedestrian crossing 99% of the time, I don’t kick stray animals in the face, I treat people fairly, I don’t treat the pavements as my personal urinal or bin, I involve myself in national issues when I have to, and I try not to add up to the mess. What does this country do? Steal my money, so stinking politicians can have holidays abroad and spoil their brats. They can’t even give you a decent education without taking away your life savings.

I could never dream of leaving my family behind, so I stay until I can take them with me. That and because I don’t exactly have enough cash for a plane ticket right now.

I’ve always belonged to my family. Home is where they are and home is where I’ll stay. I just hope I get to take us somewhere else where home extends to the rest of the country.

Gods help me.

ImageImageImageImage

Sawatdi Krap!

I will be out for a couple of days to go on a journey to the Kingdom of Siam. As I am going through purification (again, I will talk more about this later on), what better way to use my time in Thailand than to pray to the Buddha. I will come back a better man, I know it.

May this trip jumpstart many fruitful and reflective journeys in the next six months, Dionysos help me.

20051025-WatBenchamabophitBuddha