America, Day 10

America, Day 10

Woke up to a beautiful morning and…more problems with the Internet. Sigh. Perhaps Wi-Fi really IS the bottom rung of Maslow’s pyramid. It seems we can get little done without it.
More reflection, of the good kind this time. Much deep pain is being cleansed on this trip and I can feel it both spirit and body. I did not know that the shadows cast were this long, but I have faith – as I have had since forever – that no matter how great the darkness, the light is greater.

Resisted the urge to go back too much into reverie and past memory. My sense is now that it is the future that will illumine what came before. We need to go forwards to go back, and back to go forwards.

Balance, balance, always balance. 静あり,動あり。(stillness in motion、motion in stillness)

( 闇あるところ光あり、悪あるところ正義あり。)

Where there is darkness, there is light, and where there is evil, there is justice. Whoever would have thought that Rom Stol’s words would be such succor to me, a full 15 years after I first heard them. Well, I’ve lived a life full of anime and games, and I do believe it shows.

More poetry.

I have come to another river, it seems
and this time I ford it in joy and gratitude
rather than tarry overlong in waters of
anguish past.

My sword which has served me so long and so well
is beaten into not into any plowshare
but instead turned to reflect that eternal light that shines
a golden beam strikes the edge and splits into
a cascade of rainbows that shines on all Creation.

What pain still remains
I offer up in supplication
It has taught me all it can
may the Universe make better use of it
than I ever could.

This no editing thing is real. I think I’ll keep with it.

Another attack of the past in the morning. This has happened so many times I am well aware of what it is now…古傷の残像 (the afterimages of old wounds)

Let it ride, let it go. Resist to urge to tell everyone and everything about it. You know you can handle it on your own. The difference between the true sharing between friends, and the pathological desire to be rid of whatever is troubling you NOW.

Had a good talk with D about psychotherapy in general. We touched on a lot of issues, but most specifically psychology’s past focus on pathology. Though that is changing – especially with Martin P Seligman’s positive psychology and other practitioners’ differing perspectives. What we focus on becomes us. There has been too much been said about the bad, and not enough about the good.

Though that being said, I still remember more than 10 years of my life in which pathology was the mainstay and the centerpiece of everything. As Shakespeare might say, how it doth raven up and consume your soul. It had to be dealt with because if not it would have destroyed me. Now is the time in which attention can be given to the positive and not just the negative.
Therapy isn’t life…therapy is what we go through in order to GET to life. Therapy has been part of my daily life for as long as I can remember, but it shouldn’t be the main focus. I’m happy that I’ve reached a point where it isn’t! Yes, you can have too much of a good thing.

Also the issue of diagnosis. I was quite surprised to learn that in the UK the DSM is NOT treated as the Holy Bible. For the less psychological of my readers :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSM-5

I wiki, so you don’t have to!

I guess it stands to reason because they have the National Health Service and as such don’t need the diagnostic criteria as much for insurance reasons. The world is made up of so many things, don’t you think?

Diagnosis only goes so far, it doesn’t present the full picture. What the world calls depression or anxiety has so many factors and permutations. I’d like to talk more about it here but actually, most of what I want to say about that is in other upcoming blog posts, in my book and my poetry. So I’ll at least attempt to keep this travel-centred for now.
Went on a tour of old Sacramento and the Crocker Art Museum. And many good pictures were taken.

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The Universe, and everything in it.

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Looks like some kind of boss monster doesn’t it?

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Ah, time. Since I’m dealing with it, I thought I’d take a picture of it.

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The plaque on the wall spoke about children caught in war. I know all about that, in a different way than most perhaps. It’s a good picture.

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D remarked that it reminded her of The Scream. Obviously someone didn’t like rush-hour traffic.

Many references in this picture. Gotta catch’em all!

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Biohazard switch as art. Ultra post-modern.

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These are made out of clay. Amazing ain’t it?

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Very Nighthawks. I like it.

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Mexican plate used for the Day of the Dead.

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More Mexican art. What do you expect, it’s California!

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Inspired by children’s books. I like it.

I like this sign.

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I particularly like this piece. It looks different from every angle. Here’s a video which I hope captures it.

All this museum going reminds me of my last travelogue to Japan, in which I spent plenty of time in museums. I’m going to have to drag that out and reblog it sometime.

Ai Wei Wei’s bronze heads were the highlight of the moment, and so we went there to see them. They’re quite a spectacle.

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My sign, the Dog.

Though I must say that a rather unkind thought popped into my head – well, I could totally make these bronze heads if my father was one of China’s most celebrated poets!

We can’t pick our parents. I’m reminded of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, in which he makes the point quite clear that behind seeming success is actually often a LOT of advantages. Parents, money, connections, being in the right place at the right time…and sometimes just being plain lucky (or unlucky)

So I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. None of us should be. We just play the hand we’re dealt the best we can, and I’m determined to turn jokers into aces at any given opportunity.

More pics of old Sacramento, which my hosts were gracious enough to take me around.

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An architectural marvel know as…Big Pink. A rather apt name.

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The store known only as Bagel. What a name.

It was time to go back and prepare dinner. 2 and a half hours of cooking madness.

The knife I used was a real beauty. I spent like a full minute simply slicing something, marvelling at the sharpness of the edge, slicing it again and sighing in pleasure. If I had knives like these I’d cook everyday! They also cost a few hundred bucks, so I’ll stick with the one at home which is like…9?

I’ve prepared everything before so it was pretty easy to do. Pics of the food because, well, isn’t that what everyone does these days?

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Everyone liked the beef, including me. One of my oldest recipes which has gone through a few revisions.

Then it was time for dessert, which I don’t have a picture of.

I’m going to relate with some embarrassment that I got a bit tipsy at my own dessert. They are oranges soaked in cointreau with sugar, and they really pack a punch, even if they are soaked for only half a day as opposed to a full day.

It was just when D was commenting that the fruit masks the impact of the liquor, which can really sneak up on you, that it hit…speak of the devil, as they say. I had to go lie down.

I may just relate a bit of what it felt like.

I feel fear. I’m scared that I will have a panic attack, but I know that isn’t me. Thoughts arise – so many thoughts. Should I hang on? Should I focus on something and block everything else out? What if I get sick? Will I cause trouble to others? I want to talk, to participate, but I don’t exactly feel that good…

I know where this is coming from – the past, and my mind. It doesn’t wish to feel and so it shunts off everything into. I’m scared that I will throw up, or that I will pass out…but frankly I won’t, and if those things happen it’s not the end of the world. So I simply let myself ride it through…slowly does it.

I really REALLY don’t enjoy feeling this disoriented. And people do this for fun? Though I guess most people don’t have my traumatic past to contend with when they get drunk. My mother got terribly drunk more than once and I had to deal with it, which put me off drinking.

So I went to sit on the couch. D was pretty conscientious and knew exactly what to do – which was to leave my alone, refuse my request to hold my hand (probably a good idea) and give me water to drink. She’s probably seen tipsy people before.

As new experiences go this was pretty interesting though. I also got a better gauge of my post-dissociative, post-medication, post-rebirth tolerance for alcohol…which is kind of low. Something to remember. I guess I’ll just go back to drinking water for now.

My hosts had 2 guests over and they talked a bit about their son, who is incredibly talented and successful. Amazingly enough did not get super envy attack. I guess my healing is pretty on track.

The end of another long day. See you all tomorrow.

America, Day 9

Woke up early to some connectivity problems with the wi-fi. I guess I shouldn’t assume it will work everywhere. Decided to continue writing in the absence of the Internet.

More of the past distintegrates. The envy that used to hound me, the constant feeling of being “late”, the money worries…all that seems so faraway now. The sword, the spear and the scythe spake true…this IS the new world, even if I trouble believing it sometimes.

All the refutations and excuses that I used to go up and down with for hours on end. Why aren’t where I want to be in life at this moment? Well, it’s because I was abused. It all seems obvious to be now. What were once excuses and rationalizations turn into strength. What seemed like it was on Mars in the past now is so easy to do it’s almost frightening.

Why do I ever care about this time thing that goddamn much anyway? So I lost some time. Who doesn’t? I can take it on the chin and get on with life, as it were. There IS a point to mourning yesterday, but I think I’ve long since passed it.

It’s…complicated, as most things are. And also simple, as even more things are. Once again I’m putting aside the desire to go deep inside the mind, to figure things out, to explicate endlessly and write it out in a clear and conside manner – because these things are anything BUT clear and concise.

I went back to read a little of my previous writing. It wasn’t bad…raw in several places, but that’s only to be expected. I can feel the criticism inherent in it, and I remember how I would spend my time tearing myself to bits over every each line, instead of well…just writing!

I thought and rested and wrote in the dawn light, and it was good. Sometimes there is nothing more to say.

Not having Internet is a pain. No matter how much I like writing. Will eventually have to learn to get this blog thing set up properly as well.

D came down and I asked her to reset the router. And then like magic, it worked! Resetting things should always be your first port of call in the case of any technological malfunction.
Went out with my hosts and had a wonderful brunch at a nearby cafe. It was really really good. No pictures though.

Walked slowly back near through the river and saw a gaggle of geese who wanted food and a small snake, both of which I also did not take pictures of. Sometimes it’s good to just be with nature and not feel you have to capture it.

Had more wonderful and stimulating conversations with D about a variety of issues, including socioeconomics, human history and LGBT issues. She remarked and I agreed that this increased interest in LGBT and human sexuality seemed to have exploded in recent years – what was the cause?

Well, Ellen, for one. Caitlin Jenner, for another. And even way back, most probably Melissa Etheridge…Ricky Martin? One of the Wachoski brothers isn’t a Wachowski brother anymore. That’s just in popular culture. They’ve been signs that go back a ways, and not just in film and media either.

Which led to another interesting discussion about cycles and ebbs and flows in human society. Sometimes the signs are there but we can’t see them from where we are at the moment. That’s definitely been the case in my life. Hindsight is 20-20 applies to everything from country to county to our personal lives.

Makes you feel kind of small doesn’t it? In the grand scheme of things all our petty concerns like not being able to find the right kind of orange juice in the store seem paltry and insignificant. And yet each human life is precious, and our daily lives – no matter how small they may seem – all indeed have great meaning, if not to ourselves, but to the rest of the Universe as well. Everything is connected.

For so much of my life I was taught to put aside the small in favor of the large, and told also how my own struggles and sorrows meant nothing in the face of greater ones. It has taken me many many years to realize that those words were simply a false shield against great pain and sorrow that the speaker had no defense against.

Now it is a relief to realize that thought it may not seem like it at first, the simple act of putting on my shoes is also sacred, and that it should be attended to with the same spirit I give to prayer and well…everything else. That is a goal that may take some time to form in my life, but I believe it is one that is well worth aspiring to.

Mentioned that I like to cook and then suddenly in the matter of minutes it seems that I’ll be cooking for a party of 5 tomorrow. Bring it on! I volunteered anyway. We went out to buy groceries and I could actually find most of what I needed – this is California anyway, so their Asian selection is pretty good. Found a lot of the same stuff as I use in SG.

Went to a very nice open-air jazz concert which I do have one or two pictures of. Also ate tacos. Remembered that I didn’t much like tacos when I was younger but now I find them quite tasty.

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Was too far away to take good pics.

Also random scenery :

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Completely had no time to watch Gundam Unicorn, but I’m sure I will have time later.

Thought about gardening either tomorrow or the day after. That’s something I have never done before and so it would be interesting to try! The seeds aren’t ready though, so all I could do at the moment would be to till the soil…very John Steinbeck.

Chatted more in the car, especially about my favorite subject these days – What I Am Going To Do With My Life. Though I’m also realizing that everyone that I meet doesn’t really have a clue either. It’s a process! And like a friend of mine said, we should enjoy the process.

I still feel kind of embarrassed at times for talking so much about myself. Though I do realize that that stems from a prior (and invalid) injunction to shut myself up in a hole and not bother anyone. Coming more to the slow realization that I’m a human being and that I have the right both to listen and to be heard, especially about really important issues such as what I’m going through right now.

I don’t think I ramble overlong but something inside always tells me so…shut up, past, I know you’re up to not good. Get yourself gone. These are my friends whom I love dearly, and who I’m sure are as happy to offer their perspectives and advice as I am to receive it. That belief grows stronger and stronger every day.

California is…still nostalgic, though not overwhelmingly so. I haven’t cried on this trip so far! I would be lying if I said that the scenery does not evoke powerful emotion though. If you asked me at this precise moment what I would do, it would be to go to university or work here. But that may just be the nostalgia talking. It’s too early to say.

Had another nice dinner. Also no pictures. This food picture taking thing has gone too far, and the buck stops here. So…much…good…food. The first leg of my trip seems to be a lot of a) talking to much older people b) spirituality and c) cooking. I wonder what the second will be?

More deep and philsophical conversations with my hosts, ranging from…well, everything, it seemed. Culture, society, human civilization etc. I’d love to relate all that we discussed but I have a schedule to keep!

D was very interested in the history of Singapore, which is actually very interesting indeed…and unknown to a great many people. The national rhetoric is that Singapore is 50 years ago, which is quite frankly untrue. It’s history goes back a full two hundred years and is filled with events that are beyond the scope of one blog post to address.
We had wine and chocolates to go with it, which were fantastic and also proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I Was All Grown Up Now. 21 years before I would have found all that deadly boring (maybe not the chocolates) and went off to play video games or read a book.

For the first time in my life I broke off the philosophical discussions early so I could get some sleep…busy day tomorrow! More evidence of maturity, I guess. Also, the assurance that there will be more in the future helps. Moving from scarcity to abundance has many forms.

It has been a day of deep thought and reflection, and it is indeed a blessing to share it with others, instead of sitting in my room all alone thinking my heart and head out, which was never the healthiest of activities. For the longest of times all those parts of my nature remained separate – anime, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, social justice…I can see at least some connections being formed now. I don’t believe I could choose between any one of them, and I don’t think I need to.

How does it all fit together? I still don’t know. There is but the path, and the willingness to walk it.

Goodnight all. And face front, true believers!

America, Day 8

Woke up early again. So many things to doooooooooooooooo…ok, slow down, focus. One thing at a time. No Unicorn today, I have a long day ahead of me. Maybe like…half an episode later. Maaaaaaaaaybe.

Bid farewell to everyone and settled in for the night. Had some time for self-reflection. As one of the older gentlemen said on Monday, I seem given to introspection – and he would be right. Sometimes too much so.

So many of the people I’ve met recently are actually of my parents’ generation. They listen to the same songs, read the same books (well, not all of them) and have at least some of the same viewpoints and frames of reference. Yet they are so different in many ways.

It’s not without some chuckling at myself that I realize I am doing many of the things that my parents once exhorted me to do unsuccessfully – make the beds properly, buy nice gifts (at least I hope they are nice!) offer to help, and even go to school. Of course when people are pressuring you to do them they are the last things you want to do, at any age.
I’m actually around the same age as the children of many the people that I meet. But yet they are my friends and not parent surrogates. It’s an interesting feeling, and one that I cherish greatly.

Wrote a bunch of stuff and ate some dim sum for lunch. Once again A seemed very intrigued by my dim sum sauce, which was a simple combination of vineger, ginger and soy sauce. I don’t think they get that here in the US.

Dim sum tastes the same as back in SG, at least to my untrained tongue. I’ve had so many friends howl about “nooooooooooooooo the Americans get it wrong!” but frankly I think it’s about the same in quality…perhaps a little meatier. Could be the high Asian population of California, could be my preference for Western food over Chinese in general. Whatever.

Drove up to P and D’s house in the afternoon. It took about an hour and a half, most of which I spent asleep in the car. More nostalgia…sleeping in the car! The warm sun has a way of making you doze off despite yourself.

Spent a lot of time looking out the window. California’s physical environment doesn’t seem to have changed at al. There are still the same fields of long grass, stuccoed walls in need of repair, and of course, the long and wide grey roads that stretch out everywhere. I felt the child in me respond, and I held his hand as we entered Sacramento.

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We turned a corner and there they were – IHOP! In-And-Out Burger! How I loved those places and wanted to go more, but my parents wouldn’t take me and I didn’t know how to ask. How I longed for them in the interim and denied it to myself. So many memories. But they don’t overwhelm me as they used to. It’s good to remember.

I am mindful of my promise to Mei An to eat at IHOP at least once, but there is IHOP all over the States. We’ll get there.

Took pictures. They look like pretty normal freeways, and they are, but they have different meanings to me.

Had a great talk with all my friends. There was a lot of conversation about tithes, pledge drives, congregations and other church related activities, which still surprises me sometimes. After all, when I was younger I balked at ANY mention of religion. I’m still not fully accustomed to praying…or having my prayers answered!

We shared stories from all over the world and had a very nice dinner besides, courtesy of D’s cooking. I helped out where I could.

I sense too that this trip will be very culinary, as well as spiritual. I couldn’t be happier! Finally I have a chance to cook and have people appreciate my cooking. I don’t get to do that half as much as I should in SG.

Mandatory pictures of delicious food :

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After dinner activity was singing. P is quite a songwriter (as I’ve detailed before) and I got the distinct impression that he doesn’t get to play his music as much he would like to. So D and I accompanied him on a few pieces. What are friends for, anyway? In any case it’s a pleasure to sing good songs, no matter where they might come from.

Come to think of it this is the very first time in my life I have actually sung a friend’s composition. It’s a good feeling. And I should really learn to read music at some point.

I’m what you might call a music instigator. As most of my friends know, if there is the slightest inclination or aptitude of singing in anyone, I go up to them and ask “do you want to karaoke?” And then I repeat it with the next person, and point fingers at both, and after say that “I know a good place we can go karaoke!”

After some time spent in these activities I can sort of sense it, it calls to me. It’s like a smell in the air, leading me to – I’m just kidding. It’s kind of obvious when people want to sing actually. Usually what happens is that I start singing and then other musical people come out of the woodwork and join in some fashion at some point, whether it’s karaoke or otherwise.

Bid a fond farewell to P and A. It was a wonderful time that I spent with them at their place, and a great beginning to my travels here in the US. I’ll never forget it, nor all the kind folk who shared their houses and hearts with me.

Will also change the name to Ph so he doesn’t get confused with P.

Took a long walk with Ph and D after dinner. Managed to get my entire life story out in under an hour…I’ve got this down to an artform now. Talked about what seemed like everything under the sun and more.

Sacramento in the evening is truly beautiful, so beautiful I forgot to take pictures, also because I was wrapped up in my life story. Sorry guys. There’s always tomorrow though!

Continued talking until it was bedtime. It was a long day and sleep beckoned. I’ll probably abandon this idea of having to end each night with a reference. I’m not THAT much of a glutton for punishment.

Night guys. (and girls)

America, Day 7

America, Day 7

Woke up to P asking me whether I would care to watch some lectures on cosmology with him. Would I ever! Or rather that was my intention but the combination of the lack of sleep and the announcer’s voice (who would have thought that a British accent could be quite so…soporific?) sent me back into a drowsy state in which I missed the finer points of the neutrinos, photons, atoms and the birth of the Universe. Oh well. We can’t do everything.

I went back to sleep and did some work. Then it was time for another outing, this time to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.

Here are some pics of the place :

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I got some nice shots of the animals but they are too many to post here. Check Flickr if you want.

I must say, it’s heartening to see so many people give of their time, money and effort to help with animal rescue. There IS hope for humans after all. Keep up the good fight people. Gaia needs more like you.

There were 2 school buses outside, and I had some more emotional experiences while seeing the children run around. A Chinese girl with the cutest pigtails you ever did see ran right past me while I was looking at some of the eagles. 21 years ago, that could have been my little sister.

Besides the use of mobile phones, everything looked the same. It was like time never passed…but I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirrored door and I was twice the size that I was when I first lived in the US. Not to mention almost thrice the age.

The warm, caring people, the offhand jokes and chance remarks…this is the California that I remember. And I think I’m a lot better equipped to appreciate it now.
It’s at times like these that I feel that I want to drop everything and move back to the US…but then I return to myself once more and ask an important question. Who’s saying that? My mother’s past fear that says that I have to decide and decide NOW and the cost be damned? My poor, lost and lonely self of many years before?

I don’t need to answer. I don’t, not when it will come to me. The Dharma returns to me once more and I move my consciousness back to the present. Breathe. Breathe. Go over to the car door. Turn the handle. Breathe. Get into the seat, and let the sunshine in.

Had lunch with P and learnt a bit about his life story as well. Turns out he worked in a nuclear submarine at one point! That’s not something you hear every day.

Had lunch at a nice restaurant with a great menu which I have to share :

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Peace, love and sushi. I can get behind that.

Went home to deal with such mundane affairs as laundry and grocery shopping. Guests were coming for dinner and I was tapped to bring out my Szechan Surprise…it’s actually not really Szechuan anything, just chillies and other assorted goodies. Don’t tell anyone though.

Planned menu with A and starting defrosted food. God I love cooking. Did I ever tell you that I wanted to be a chef when I was in my mid 20s? Probably good I didn’t though. Chefs lead hard lives…just watch Ratatouille and you’ll know whereof I speak.

Wrote blog post and other stories while waiting for dinnertime. I’m not a bad cook (just ask anyone who’s eaten my food) but I think writing is more my metier.

Oh yes, and also called my old schools, trying to find my teachers. No luck…I got to the schools alright but none of them worked there anymore. Which given the fact that it had been 21 years is not unsurprisingly. The nice black lady on the other line recommended I use Facespace or something. Good idea but that was my first port of call and I still turned up empty.
I went so far as to call the Los Angeles Unified School District but they told me the same thing – that they couldn’t give out confidential employee information. Which made perfect sense. I thanked them and put the phone down, feeling confused and a little lost.

What was I expecting? To be able to find all of them again? Wise Mrs Randle, no-nonsense Mr Weiss, gentle Jeff Felz, and everyone else besides. Yes…yes I was actually. But maybe it was not fated to be. That generation isn’t actually known for their use of Facespace.

I will be able to take tours of the schools though, which is great. I hope I won’t break down in tears when I actually do get to LA. If I do, though, well…whatever happens, happens.
More of A’s art :

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Wrote somemore. Finished up a story or two as well. This trip has been fantastic for me…it’s accelerating my creativity by leaps and bounds. Could there also perhaps be some time for more Gundam Unicorn?

There was. Got to about halfway through Episode 5. Had to stop before the big fight. Didn’t want so much feels before I had to cook.

Speaking of cooking…using another’s kitchen is always kind of new and exciting. You don’t know where everything is. You don’t know what condiments and seasonings they have. You don’t even know HOW they cook.

You know the adage “too many cooks spoil the broth?” It should be more aptly named “get the fuck out of my way when I’m in the kitchen.” There’s a reason why there’s only one chef and one sous-chef in any given restaurant…you can’t have TWO commanders in chief!

Anyway, for today’s dinner I was the guy in charge because I was making most of the dishes. I needed to debone a chicken in double-quick time because a) they apparently didn’t sell chopped chicken in the US and b) A had no cleaver. Thankfully I had done that before. So I did it the ghetto way – use a kitchen knife for what I could do, and then rip the rest in half with my bare hands. Caveman cooking, there’s nothing quite like it.

A remarked that my cooking was very Japanese style, with everything being cut into little pieces that could be picked up easily with chopsticks. She’s…actually right. I’ve never thought of it being that way before, but yeah, I do tend to cut everything kind of small. Shortens cooking time, for one.

More pics of the food! Looks good don’t it? It tasted even better.

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Everyone liked it. I keep on forgetting that as Mei An once remarked, no one who has ever eaten my food has complained. Some of the people I had dinner with earlier came over. Richard (who is no slouch at cooking himself!) liked it, and that was a compliment of the highest order.

The bathroom mat got soaking wet because I forgot that you put the shower curtain on the INSIDE rather than on the OUTSIDE. Everyone at dinner got a good laugh about that. Sometimes it’s the small differences between countries that matter the most…bathroom mats, shower curtains, when dinnertime is, no deboned chicken or choppers. As I often remind myself, not everything needs to be some Incredibly Emotional Life-Changing Event. Life is often just…life, wherever in the world it may be.

Kind of excited about tomorrow. I’ll be seeing D and P again for the first time in months. They are very dear friends of mine and have taught and given me much. Also, we’re going to sing, and everyone who knows me knows how much I love singing!

So many things to learn about blogging and video editing and God knows what else…I’ve got my work cut out for me in the foreseeable future.

Went to watch more Gundam Unicorn. It’s as powerful as ever, and best taken in small doses. Halfway through Episode 5. It’s good therapy actually, in many different ways…learning that emotional things can be good but don’t need to be SO GODDAMN EMOTIONAL.

Banagher may end up being my favorite Gundam pilot, after like 17 years of watching Gundam.

He has Domon’s fury, Setsuna’s resolve, Amuro’s intution, Camille’s resistance, and Usso’s innocence. As well as a kindness all of his own. And his hair…gotta love that fluffy fluffy hair!
And the Unicorn! What a mobile suit. I don’t think it will beat the Type-2 Quanta (the only Gundam ever designed for peace instead of war…it literally HAS NO WEAPONS) but it’s fucking awesome. It’s only possibly the only mobile suit that has fought on both Federation and Zeon lines.

More random scenery pics :

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Had more to write but in the spirit of new things decided to just end things here for today. It’s been a long post and a long day in any case.

では、次の機会にマジンゴーーーー!(Alright then, until the next time, Mazin Gooooooooooooooooo!)
ずっと言ったかった、あのセリフ。。。(I’ve always wanted to say that line.)

America, Day 6

America, Day 6
Woke up at 4:30, having slept at 10 or so the night before. I sense this is going to be a pattern in the USA for me. But it at least allows me to write my blog so it’s all good.
Nothing much planned for today, which is a change. May decide to take it easy.
Or so I said but after finishing up some work I decided to watch more Gundam Unicorn.
我が愛しい妹と鋼鉄の兄弟の同じ物を見せてくれいないか。。。ガンダム。ウニコーンノの証を!(What my beloved sister and brother of steel both see…won’t you show it to me, Gundam? The sign of the Unicorn!) I asked, and it was given, like so many other things.
What lies beyond the NDS…no mere system or contrivance of human hands, but compassion itself. When Banagher screamed 打てません!(I can’t shoot!) I broke down and cried (which happens a lot these days) As Advanced Wind, the Wild Arms 3 opening says…本当の強さは引き金を引くことではないから。(True strength does not lie in pulling the trigger.)
Which is what I love about Gundam – the constant message that though humanity constantly wars with itself, through kindness and understanding we can surpass even cursed destiny. With giant robots of course.
Still have to do that full writeup on Unicorn. I’ll get to it, I promise!
Went and walked around a bit more. Still have a tendency to get caught up in my thoughts. Have to remind myself that it’s by being in the present moment that I will get to the future. After all, the future hasn’t happened yet.

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Isn’t it a beautiful city though?
二十年前の面影はまだ残っている。(The traces of twenty years past still remain.) The sunlight – the warm, golden glow of California – sparks so many memories. I remember my child self steadfastly wearing the same things to school every day, searching the libraries for fantasy novels and reading them everywhere, blind to the greater realities around him. In some ways I was a hikkokomori (shut-in) before my time.
How could my younger self have known what plagued my parents? He couldn’t have. He did the best he could and he took the grizzly back with him even without knowing he did.
Going to stop here before I get too nostalgic. There’s the life to be lived in the now.
Met a Spanish lady who commented that my English was very good…I get that a lot, almost as much as I get comments on my Japanese. Thanked her and I remembered my other past as well, the angry 20-something year old who was dying to let everyone know he came from everywhere EXCEPT Singapore, when mental issues and cultural identity raged through me.
It all doesn’t matter anymore. People are people. In the end, there is only pain, and the means to end that pain, whether with compassion or other means. The sunshine does more than just bring back the past…it opens the way to the future.
Whew, heavy stuff for a morning stroll. That’s what you get from Gundam in the morning.
But I can feel the past dying. Everything that I thought and felt was right at that point in time, but now it has little to no relevance. I shall let myself be prisoner no more to hatred and envy that perhaps was not even mine, but was passed down to me. 日差しとウニコーンを一つになろう、前に導いてくれ。(Let the sunshine and unicorn both become one, and guide me ever onwards.)
I said earlier that you’d get some poetry, so here you are.

If we are to grow
And go forwards, then
We must die to ourselves
To our past reality
Everything that we once desired and held so dear

It’s both easier and harder than it looks
Easier because all we need to do it to just let go
But at the same time harder because we cling it to
Without knowing how much it can hurt us.

Let go
Let go, I whisper
I shout
I howl and I scream
Only to have my voice rasp emptily
Until my throat is dry and cracked and bleeding.

I look up to see how
it comes back to me
wreathed in beauty
A benediction in sound.

The past may pain us, yes
But it is our choice were we look
And I choose to fix my gaze not upon
The rusted detritus of yesterday, but
A swiftly unfolding future.

Spontaneous poetry, WITHOUT EDITING. I may edit at some point, I may not.

Also, NorCal is colder than I thought. May need to get another sweater or something for the mornings.
More phone trouble later in the day. Went to an AT&T store and they STILL couldn’t fix it. This means that over 10 people in 2 from nationalities ranging from Filipino to Indian to German to Spanish couldn’t get the damn thing working. Because why? Because Xiaomi, that’s why. Argh.
Spent some time walking around the city just because. It looks just like when I was younger.
Tried not to board the feels train but ending up buying an express ticket on it. My past self awakened once more, the young boy/man who loved America and hated Singapore with a passion. I let him just cry out in rage for a while. Heaven knows he had wanted to say so many things 10 years ago which he couldn’t, because his mother was always there with the constant refrain of “but the US is different now”

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Boy, don’t I know it! I wasn’t trying to go back so much as I was trying to go forwards. But each time I spoke of it my mother would take about how I was only there for 2 years (2 years and 9 months to be exact) like it was some a mantra or warding charm that would keep George Washington and his hordes of white men away.
Sigh. Such was life back in those days. I took my thoughts out of the past and into the present once more – the trees and highways and blue, blue skies. Little kids out with their families, young people fiddling with their mobiles (they didn’t have THOSE 20 years ago…) and the wide open streets.
The helpful sales assistant at the Verizon shop with the Spanish accent and short, short hair…would this who my Spanish friend, Vidal, would have been like now? The older woman I met on the slopes of Walnut Creek, walking her dog…could that have been his mother? Or aunt?
We can so often be our worst enemies, and get in our own way. This time I just stepped back, out of the mind, and let the sunshine do its work.
As is so often when I’m lost in reverie, lost track of the time and got of semi-lost on the way back. So I was late for dinner…I keep forgetting that these are proper dinners (where the table is set and everything) not the slap-dash affairs that my sis and I have back home. P even went out to find me! Apologized profusely, complete with bowing. My Japanese side comes out pretty strongly in times like these.
Got the recipe for A’s somen salad, which was wonderful. I swear I am being spoiled ROTTEN on this trip by all the good food I’ve been eating. Every meal has been delicious!
P wanted to play some songs that he had written after dinner. They were beautiful songs – simple and brimming with love, kindness and affection. Very 60s. I asked him if he had ever recorded them and he said no…I forget that not everyone wants to be a superstar like yours truly.
I can’t read music (at least not that well) so he had to sing them first and I followed. We had a great time.
It was such a privilege and honor to be taken into the home and confidence of this person, a quiet, gentle man full of concern and love for his friends, his wife and his planet. I’d like to take anyone who speaks about white privilege to meet this guy…he’s proof positive that you can have things but feel keenly the plight of those who do not.
P also told me that he wrote most of his music from the ages of 30 too 50. It got me thinking…I’ve been in mourning for my lost teenage and young adulthood for so long now, in part because of the (probably mistaken) belief that they are supposed to be the “best years of your life.” But what if that just isn’t true? Like a friend’s wife told me recently – everyone’s blossoming period is different. She’s probably right.
If you have old friends, treasure them. Their wealth of experience and broad perspective is truly helpful. They’ve lived longer than you, and those extra years can be a powerful resource indeed. I think back to the days of my youth where I was alternately exhorted, browbeaten and blackmailed into respect for my elders…if I had known these good people then, there wouldn’t have a need to have been any of that.
Turned in for the night, wrote blog post. Ended the day without thinking up a reference. More newness!

America, Day 5

As a stopgap measure for photos, you can check out most of them here while I learn to use WordPress more effectively.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/32522691@N00/

I’ll begin today’s entry with the observation that most of my meetings have been very multicultural. Poker Night had 2 Singaporeans, 1 Russian, a Scottish lady and I think 1 British woman? Yesterday’s excursion was 1 American, 1 Japanese, 1 Singaporean, 1 German and an Austrian.

Transculturalism, spirituality, LGBT rights, oh yes, and don’t forget anime! Hmm, yeah, this is my life alright.

Morning was a trip with P to meet a bunch of learned gentlemen discuss psychology, neuroscience and the brain. Sounds like my idea of heaven!

And yes the company was very learned indeed. 2 professors (maybe more!) at least 2 doctors and well…I’m not counting titles, but it was high-quality intellectual discourse. The host took me to see his library, which was quite a sight.

Look at all these books. Just look at them. Quite a sight, no? A scene from Read or Die comes to mind here :

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We watched a DVD where there was some guest lecturing, followed by conversation and discussion of the presented matter. Just like our services back home! (but without the hymns)

I was asked a variety of questions by all the gentlemen present. I felt like a bright young inquisitive student being peered over by his professors on his first day of school. All the college experience without going to college.

I got very good advice from everyone there, especially regarding the possible shortening of any university courses I might take. If I ever do go back to school, it would be good to know that I can spend less instead of more time there…it’s really different when you’re spending your money instead of your parents’, that’s for sure.

Also, I’ve gotten my life story down to 2 minutes, the short version. We’ll see if I can’t whittle it down further.

It was another really fun and educational experience. I think what was the best for me was not feeling the urge to jump out and dominate the conversation, but instead remind myself to sit and listen. It’s getting easier and easier to do that. It’s easier to do that when everyone there knows so much. Then you’re just in awe and you don’t feel like showing off because you can’t.

Everyone was so learned and polite! I felt like I was in ancient Greece or something, debating philosophy in the agora. All we needed was a vomitorium and some slaves to complete the picture…ok maybe not that.

Came home to write more blog posts and discover that WordPress is harder to use than I thought, even with Google. I’m discovering the limitations of Google more and more.

We went for a nice walk to the upper ridges of Walnut Creek. Pictures!

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Soon enough it was time for dinner, in which it was time to cook the same meal that I’ve cooked for guests more than 10 times…none of them better read this blog or I’m sunk! Actually that just means I’ve gotten that much better at preparing it. Always look on the bright side of life.

I suppose I shall have to post some pictures of the food like a normal denizen of the 21th century. So here you are.

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I’ve forgotten how much I like cooking. It’s just too much trouble to do so most of the time, but I love it! From cutting to preparation to putting it all together – it’s really fun. A seemed impressed with my cutting skills. To which I can only reply…見よう!子の華麗なる包丁裁きを!(Gaze upon the most beautiful use of my kitchen knife!)

Things turned out too watery at first but we had cornstarch to the rescue. I always forget that you don’t need to rewash meat from a plastic container. And that you can pat the meat dry.

Everyone finished all the food, and there was a lot of it. That is the ultimate compliment anyone can pay a chef. Thanks all!

A friend of P and A’s, M (an older Japanese lady), came over. She seemed amazed that I learnt Japanese just from anime and games. I refrained from telling her that it’s not exactly uncommon…not common, but not THAT uncommon among otaku. I guess it must be pretty wow for their generation.

She also told me that I looked and spoke like a Japanese person. I get that all the time. It’s a compliment though!

Bed beckons. I’ll see you tomorrow the same Tomato time, same Justice channel.

America, Day 4

Woke up early, but didn’t feel tired. That seems to be the normal state of affairs for me these days. It’s pretty amazing, I must say. I technically have a sleep deficit of about…6-7 hours at this point but technically smechnically.

Mindful of the injunction not to work too much on my vacation, I didn’t. There were still things to be done but…I did them. Yay. Less thought, more action.

What feels the weirdest is perhaps writing all these posts with little to no editing whatsoever. Yeah, what you see is what you get. I actually feel I write BETTER without the editing getting the way.

Goddamn phone issue still isn’t resolved. Sigh. I hereby solemnly swear never to buy a Xiaomi ever again.

Took some pictures of the house in the early morning light. I always think that it gives everything a special glow.

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If you haven’t already noticed, A is quite the painter.

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Got ready to go to UU service. Not memorial service, a normal church service. Like I said, this trip has very spiritual beginnings. Which is pretty cool. I always thought the next time I went to the US it would be for school or to attend a gaming event or something, but no, it’s service after service…I’m not complaining! It’s been very good for the soul. My first ever church service! I feel like a Real Boy now. Or something like that.

The speaker gave an incredibly good sermon which I will just put the YT link up to when it’s done. It was so good that I went up to him personally to thank him. Turns out this was his last sermon before he had to leave.

Meetings and partings and meetings and partings again. Signs upon signs. I feel like I’m in a Neil Gaiman comic or something.

We spent the day touring the city with two au pairs, L (no relation to our favorite notebook writing psychopath) and S from Austria and Germany respectively. I had fun chatting with them. Once again I have to mention anime and our conversation turned in that direction.

What is it with young people and One Piece, Naruto, and Bleach? At least there was Dragonball. That shit never gets old. What was HE watching? Attack on Titan, which made sense because a) he’s young and b) it’s in German.

Talked a bit about Avatar the Last Airbender as well (I prefer Korra because well…she’s female. And hot.) and Game of Thrones, which I don’t watch. L then asked me what I DID watch? Not the contemporary stuff, that’s for sure. I mentioned EVA and Gundam Unicorn but those didn’t ring any bells. (I would have been VERY surprised if they did…)

S was a more reserved sort, but did join in at certain points. Must be the German blood…ok, ok, I’ll stop it with the racial stereotypes now.

It’s kind of strange being around young people, especially as I consider myself young as well. Despite not watching exactly the same things, I know what they are talking about. Like P said, it’s all relative. To people past 60 I guess ALL of us look young.

Also L despite his youthful skill with the mobile phone, STILL couldn’t fix it. Which just goes to show that Xiaomi is the tool of the Devil.

Oh yeah, and the title of the sermon was “Go to the Sea” And so I went. Beautiful isn’t it? I wish I could stay forever, or at least a little longer.

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Went up to Twin Peaks. Incredible view huh? The wind was so intense that it threatened to sweep me off the top. I felt like I was in one of those kung-fu movies where the master is all like “young one, you must go to top of mountain and take many pictures while not fall off. Only when you post them to Instagram with no filter or lame captions can your training be considered complete.”

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A cave in the middle of the cliffs that looks like it leads to another world :

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Also went to the Castro District, where there are more gays than you can shake a stick at. I mean it, almost EVERYONE on the street was gay. This is SF after all. It’s nice that they have a place to hang out and be completely accepted. I wish I had that kind of place when I was younger, that’s for sure.

Had dim sum for lunch where I became the de facto translator for my group due my knowledge of Chinese. L and S were a bit ambivalent at first (first experience with Chinese food) but I think they enjoyed themselves in the end.

Somewhere before the trip I bit my lip and got a canker sore. I used to need copious amounts of medication for my canker sores but now they are going away all by themselves. I’m healing inside and out, it seems. My need for sleep also diminishes each day…which explains why I am up at 5 writing a blog post.IMG_20160424_164523_HDR IMG_20160424_164528_HDR IMG_20160424_164845_HDR IMG_20160424_164837_HDR

The last stop of the day? Another church, but non-UU this time. Still very beautiful. I am beginning to appreciate churches more and more.

Thanked the organ player for his beautiful music. It’s nice to be able to go up and say hi to people just like that. That may be the thing that I like best about the USA.

After a long day we bade farewell to our 2 young friends (relatively speaking!) and went to have dinner with other friends of P and A.

They had a really nice place – perhaps one of the nicest houses I have ever had the privilege of being invited to. Wonderful children. The wounded part of my mind and heart expected to feel the familiar pangs of envy clutch at my heart but…no, they weren’t there, the constant refrain of “why isn’t my life like this?” Which is a relief and a half.

There’s no point in wishing for what we can’t have. And I can accept that now. It’s just that in the past the grief got in the way. Things are still ok – they’re great, in fact. Something which I am still also coming to accept.

In the course of relating my life story (which thanks to my recent activities I have gotten down to 4 versions – short (less than a minute) longer (5 minutes) half an hour (for close friends) and Super Ultra Long (my autobiography) I mentioned my singing teacher. So of course everyone asked me to sing. I aim to please, so I sang Memories of Life, which has become my go-to piece performance piece because it’s actually in English.

It went over well. Noticed my hand trembling quite intensely. But now instead of suppressing it I just let it happen. It’s ok to be nervous while singing! It just shows how much I want to sing well. There’s also the fact that at this point singing has a therapeutic element to me. As the late great Maestro himself (I speak of Pavarotti of course) once said, being nervous just means that you care about the audience.

Our host (who is also an excellent cook) was a no-nonsense, warm and learned lady who left me with a benediction “may you find what you are looking for, and not just the people.” Thank you. I have a feeling that I will find it, in whatever shape it may take.

A bit of musing before bedtime. As we drove back to the house memories arose once again. I found myself thinking of my dear friends sitting right next to me, of my other American friends. They love their country, I’m sure, but not as I do. Do the long green signs and swaying grasses elicit quite the same reactions in them? I think not. The freeways that span road after road, the lone lights on the street corner…not quite Nighthawks, but close.

I will leave in a month or so, but to them this is home.  Will I come here? Live and settle as 10 years ago I so dearly wanted to? It is once again too premature to say. But the demon that wants to know at all costs, the part that equates decision with security, lessens its grip. Something in changing inside me every day, and without tears this time. It’s not like Japan where I was bawling my eyes out! I just have to keep on walking.

And time…always the question of time. 2 decades since I left. Anime of today and in the past. Old friends and new ones – both in age and duration. Everything I left behind and all that I am picking up again, in new and more beautiful ways. The masters of old say that time is an illusion and we can only live in the now. That is perhaps truer than I ever knew.

Some other pictures of the scenery that I like :

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You’ll see a lot of “normal” photos here. A asked me why I was taking so many of them. I said I find normal scenery interesting and she replied with 普通の景色は面白くない (Normal scenery isn’t interesting at all) to which with all due respect I beg to differ. My response is more along the lines of 普通の景色には独特の魅力がある。(Normal scenery has a unique appeal.)

I seem to have forgotten to mention at this juncture that A is Japanese? She’s been married to P for 30 years and has lived in the States for that amount of time.

I had three really busy days! I leave them now and see what tomorrow brings. More blog posts, no doubt.

I’ve taken so many pictures that I actually want to display them in a gallery of some sort, but WordPress is proving harder to use than I thought. I’m going to do everything manually for now until I figure out something better.

Also, I doubt everyone can get every reference in my posts, but they are welcome to try. I’ll buy dinner for anyone who manages to do so WITHOUT THE HELP OF GOOGLE.

America, Day 3

Woke up thinking again. Got fed up with myself for thinking so much. Went for a walk instead.

Also going to have to tidy up the blog from its barebones approach SOMETIME. Which given my busy schedule is likely to be later rather than sooner.

I managed to take some pictures instead of having everything bounce around in my skull for a change. It’s a very very pretty area that P and A live in! Here, I’ll show you.

IMG_20160425_055438_HDR IMG_20160424_015248_HDR IMG_20160423_101839_HDR IMG_20160423_102143_HDR IMG_20160424_064307_HDRAnd as I walked and thought (hard to shut that off completely) I felt more of the flickering ghosts of the past seem to dissipate one by one. Perhaps contemplation has a point after all. I still think, but somehow very differently that I have ever done. More changes, all of them good.

Some pictures of the house :

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So we began the day with a memorial service. I’ve never actually been to a UU church before. It’s nice, really nice actually.

The sanctuary :

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I never knew this woman at all but seeing all her friends and family gathered here, she must have been quite somebody and have led quite a life. 5 kids by 25! That was life in the old days I guess. It was quite an honor to be present at the reception. There were cookies and discussions and I met many nice new people.

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At this point I must relate that I am resisting the urge to go back and fine-tune and polish and edit each post so that it’s sparkling clean and Reads Beautifully. I’m trying to do this off-the-cuff and off-the-cuff it will stay. As a friend of mine told me, blog posts are not academic papers and I’m trying to write in the spirit of the former and not the latter.

Paul took me on a tour of the church. There was a lot to like about it. I’ll show you some of the highlights.

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Phoenix robes! Like some kind of D&D thing. These are definitely one reason to become a UU minister. They give you like +3 to Cool.

I especially like the restrooms. They delight my pro-LGBT heart immensely.

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It’s a very spiritual beginning to my journey of exploration. We go from death and rebirth to rebirth and death. It’s going great. I can feel my always inwardly turning thoughts facing outwards more. It’s nice to be able to do things instead of constantly just THINKING about them.

It’s also interesting to always be the youngest person in the room – with most of the others being at nice twice my age if not more! Perhaps it is my fate in life to be constantly clapped on the back by older gentlemen. It feels really nice actually, and there are far worse things to be subjected to.

What was next on the agenda? Poker, apparently. Texas Hold’Em to be precise.

We had dinner at the house of a longtime friend of P and A. It was great. All the dinners I’ve had on this trip have been incredibly good. I feel soooooooooooo spoiled. Companionship, great food, healing, beautiful scenery, what else could a man ask for? (The phone number of the wildflower of yesterday, actually…)

You have never met such a bunch of delightful, fun and amazing old people. I guess the adage is true – young at heart. One of them made a poignant observation that old people tend to be less inhibited than young ones because they’ve seen and done it all already. Very true! Young people need alcohol. I guess that makes me old then because I don’t.

So we actually got to play without money, just chips, which was a welcome relief from Singapore in which NO ONE GAMBLES WITHOUT MONEY EVER. Sorry, that was just me venting my spleen of 20+ years. What’s wrong with just gambling for FUN now and then, people?

So I just have to relate this anecdote that sent the lady in question into gales of laughter. She was texting someone on the phone and this was the exchange.

“Where can this guy go clubbing?”

“Well if he’s gay, he can go here…”

“HE’S NOT GAY!”

No I’m not, so that destination (whatever it was) was clearly out. It was apparently cop humor. She and her partner were cops in SF for 35 years.

They tried their best to corrupt an impressionable young man (ha, ha, who am I kidding?) and very nearly succeeded. There were stories shared and many laughs besides. I said it and I meant it – SF will have to try hard to top this!

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It was a fantastic day, and the best poker night ever. Thanks to everyone who was a part of it. Richard for the food, Annie for the hospitality, Rosemary for her humor, and everyone else for their advice, wit and vivacity.

Oh yes, and I met the most best-behaved dog I have ever seen in my life. I forgot to take a picture of her but Koko is a beauty. She’s really friendly, licks your face and actually sits down on the couch at 9 sharp and goes to bed. What about that?

Random picture of clouds I think is pretty nice :

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As Mr Saturn might say “DO YOU WANT SLUMBER?” As it came time for bed I certainly did.

I’m going to have to think up a different reference to end each day here, a task which both fills me with anticipation and dread.

America Day 2

Well I didn’t break down. I felt rather good in fact. First thoughts on touchdown? America is…the same, but different. Much like everything else in my life right now.

There was some confusion at the baggage claim but I’ll spare you the boring details. My good friend P picked me up at the airport and we made our way via BART to his house.

I expected it to be more emotional but it wasn’t. It was…how shall I put it? I felt myself changing deep inside as I saw the familiar freeways and green valleys of California. It was healing, but in a way that is hard to put into words. I sense poetry incoming sometime in the future.

It’s good to be here…to be back? Hard to say.

It was a long day so I took a nap. Got up later to prepare for an art exhibition that we were invited to.

Issues with my phone abounded (goddamn you Xiaomi!) and I had forgotten to get the right adapter for my devices. So there was some housekeeping involved – which again I won’t mention as its not very interesting. Note to self – buy and place note clippers in suitcase, not carry on luggage.

The exhibition itself was pretty amazing. Our host shared much of herself with us – her life, her words, her art.

I was so moved I wrote a poem in return. Once again, trying to write it without Editing to Make it Nicer. I can always do that later anyway.

Becoming Free

I did not know you before this day,
but you invited me into your home,
your house and your heart, and I
was touched beyond belief.

Sitting there among kindred spirits
who were all still in many many unknown to me
I felt a healing take place – deep and profound
beyond simply what was shared there
amazing though it was.

I saw a lady, young and old
wise and learned
amdist friends and family
gifted with hands, with words and with song
a room full of memories and creation
a wonder to be in
a benediction to experience.

How could you know that that was
what I had most sought for many years – freedom?
The Universe knows better than any one of us,
and it was maybe more than simple chance
that let me to your door on this,
the first day of my new journey.

Moving from darkness to light,
from the chains of the past to wings of liberation
truly a joyous coincidence.

Thank you once again for your sharing,
for your depth of love and spirit.
I salute you and your works,
your friends and your kin.
May you (and I, and all who walk upon this Earth)
go on to greater health, prosperity
and above all,
love.

The title of the exhibition – Becoming Free. Perhaps not a coincidence again.

Pics or it didn’t happen? Here you go.

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As the guests filed out I had a chance meeting with very nice people, once of which was a pretty and artistic girl with a name like a fairy princess (it was over 30 syllables!)

So…once again I am placed in the uneviable position of talking to a girl who I would most dearly like to hit on and get to know better leaving while I will likely never see her again. There has to be a way to deal with these kinds of situations better! Any ideas?

But her parting echoes in my heart even now. ”Happy healing.” Truer words were never spoken. This IS supposed to be a vacation, and there is nothing that says that joy cannot be the most potent of balms. Thank you, young wildflower, and may you blossom well in all ways.

And so another day in the land of the brave and free comes to an end.

America, Day 1

So here I am off on my journey of exploration and discovery, part 2. Thanks to everyone for their kind messages and prayers on Facebook.

In the spirit of trying new things I’m going to make a blog post every day as a record of what l see, do, feel and think. That way you can follow my travels and Zuckerberg won’t steal anything. It’ll be like my Japan trip about 8-9 years ago, just written in real-time this time.

Had a simple dinner with my Dad before leaving on a jetplane. (aha, reference!) He’s…the same as always I guess. I always feel a little conflicted when I meet with him these days. Everything he knows and feels is frozen in time, and that used to drive me up the wall because…well, we live in the now, not in the past! But what was frustration and anger before has changed largely to compassion. Thanks for seeing me off Dad.

Sat next to a nice couple of the way to Abu Dhabi. Mentioned anime (because I mention anime to everyone I travel with) and the girl doesn’t watch it (what a pity!) but the guy watches Naruto, Bleach and Fairy Tail. Sigh. What’s the world coming to? Whatever happened to watching DBZ and Sailor Moon and …ok I’m going to stop the Old Grumpy Anime fan act now. He can  watch whatever the fuck he wants. And they were really nice and shared half a cookie with me. I also learned that Etihad means “union.” Learn something new every day.

Things get pretty cramped in Economy and there’s a lot of accidental bumping and pushing and shoving. But simple apologies work wonders. As I come out of the darkness I appreciate the little things a lot more.  Imagine – what a wonderful world in which we can say sorry to each other when we bump into each other or there isn’t enough space!

There are no pictures in this post because it will be just be boring pictures of airport after airport. And also because I forgot to take them.

In the middle of each flight I engaged myself in my favorite mid-flight activity – entertaining young children. They look at me, I look back at them. I smile, they smile. I play  peek-a-boo, and after a few moments of bewilderment (WTF is this guy doing? they seem to do say) they play along. They wave their hands around, and so do I. I get grateful smiles from the parents (after a few moments of “WTF is this guy doing?”) Works every time, and it’s a fun way to pass the time.

 

Got held up at Abu Dhabi immigration because I had no return ticket – perfectly understandable. Got asked a bunch of tough questions because it’s their job to do so. In the past I would have been all you DON’T UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND but thank God those days days are past me. I just smiled and answered and honestly and as best as I was able. It’s good to know that Uncle Sam has such reliable and honest guardians.

I like the last part of my exchange with the officer :

“So you won’t call the cops if I stay for a month and 10 days?”

“You stay for 4 months and I’ll call the cops.”

“If I stay for 4 months I’ll turn myself in.”

I got a smile out of that one. But I mean it. A month (and a half or so on top of that, tops) should be more than enough. I have no intention of making trouble for these good people.

Back on the plane, I remembered how much I love flying. Apologies to my beloved sister and mother but having to take care of their panic attacks on planes really killed the experience for me before. I wonder what it is about being 3000 miles above the earth in a flying box with nothing but recycled air and reheated food for company that appeals to me. (Now I’ve gone and killed it for you haven’t I?)

I think if there was a job that allowed me to fly here and there, testing airlines, I would take it. But I don’t think I would want to work as an airline steward. Too stressful.

Flying was nice. In the past it was all I HATE SINGAPORE AND I’M SO GLAD I’M GOING AWAY but now…now it’s different, as is almost everything else. I like the romance of being in the air. I like the pretty airline stewardesses. I even like the airline food, reheated though it may be (it’s actually pretty good on some airlines, like Etihad)

I used to be so afraid of take-off and landing and turbulence, but now I can just close my eyes and get past all of that. It’s almost pleasant. More wounds being healed by the simple fact of existence. Ain’t life grand?

Woke up before everyone else did on the plane, decided to write blog post with no editing whatsoever. This journey is full of new experiences.

Strangely enough still very calm. I don’t feel this “OMG I’M FINALLY GOING TO AMERICA” that I thought that I would feel. I guess all that meditation and Zen is really paying off? Maybe I’ll break down when I hit the tarmac. No way to tell.

Watched some Gundam Unicorn on the plane but when I got to the scene where Banagher faces off against Loni in Episode 4 I had to stop. WAY too emotionally intense. I’ll watch it another time.

Unicorn is powerful…beyond powerful. I am reminded of a comment that my sister made when she watched it. “Is this what my brother sees when he watches Evangelion?” All that and more, dear sister. It’s not like I don’t like Gundam either! (after all, my beloved EVA would never exist without it!)

When I first saw the NDS activate, and the red lines permeate every inch of the mobile suit…whew, I had to breathe deeply. It’s truly the successor to UC in more ways than one. A paragraph here and there doesn’t do it justice, I’ll do a full writeup eventually.

To be continued tomorrow.