Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Monday, March 18, 2013

starting over.

How annoying is it for your life to be filled in boxes? Well for one, you can't find things. . .things you need.

I spent the second half of Sunday trying to find my birth certificate. The first half was spent sleeping and watching the Life of Pi. I really like that movie! And it got me motivated to purge. Well, actually doing my taxes and finding my birth certificate got me to purge. But there is a part in the movie where Pi speaks of losing Richard Parker. After all the trials and tribulations they went through together, all the memories they shared from the weeks, months at sea, as soon as they hit dry land Richard Parker simply turns his back on Pi and walks aways from it all. Mr. Parker had moved on. Pi proclaimed it as letting go, and it was much more difficult for him to "say goodbye" to the life changing experience he  had just survived through. I can relate to Pi. Though I hope he wasn't at sea for 2 years, he had experienced some extreme traumatic circumstances that would effect any young person; thrown over board into the depths of sea, losing his entire family, leaving his friends behind, and the life he grew up with, and then being stranded on a small boat with a live wild carnivore! That's definitely some stuff to make you want to pray!

Through it all, Pi never lost faith in God, but then why was it so hard for him to believe his life was about to change once in Mexico? Why was he soo attached to an animal that he feared would eat him alive? Why was it hard for him to let go of his new "lifestyle", that he knew would be temporary? Because when trauma hits, it doesn't just effect you for the moment, it's a chemical change that is stamped in your soul for life. And it doesn't matter the degree of trauma, anything that is outside your range of "normality", I believe could be considered a life changing experience. And of course there is the time factor. Major things may happen once, and quickly, but minor things may happen again and again over time, so, eventually your habits change. Seeing millions of ants in my SE Asian apartment wasn't necessarily a "painful traumatic" experience, but it was annoying as ever!, and there seemed to be NOTHING I could do to keep them away. So, even now, a whole year later after living in Viet Nam, I have a fear of leaving food out in the open, or leaving crumbs on the counter, because all I see is a mad rush of sugar-sucking spider-shaped ants coming to feast on whatever morsel they can clench their jaws on. So as I purge and search for my birth certificate, I ask myself, why not make life easy and turn in my expired pssprt? (yes I abbreviated the word because I declared it as "lost".) Because, I don't want to give up tangible evidence of the life I once had.
Because, I may share the story with my children one day and they may not believe me.
Because, I just can't.
I also found old letters from a love I once had. I thought about getting rid of those too, but I didn't. Why waste the space? Because its evidence that someone (outside of my family) truly did care for me unconditionally. Evidence that a man can and will put in the time to remind his woman how special she is to him. Because it reminds me not to give up, but to start over. 

Friday, September 21, 2012


I recently had the pleasure of visiting New York City. The last time I hit the big apple pavement was back in '07. The World Trade center site was still a disaster, with minimal progress on the memorial. At that time the city was fun as always, but still scary and a "big deal" to maneuver my way through the subway system. My recent visit was a much different experience.

Thank God for girlfriends who let you crash at their crib. My friend J loaned her couch and a set of keys to me for the week in the city. She lives in Queens, which is a neighborhood of New York I had never visited and never knew where it was located in relation to Brooklyn. Aside from my experience of Jamaica Queens in Coming to America, this burrow might as well be on the moon. In my mind it was a far distant land, like Staten Island. But something in me has changed since living over seas. Nothing excites me anymore. It's not that I don't find anything exciting, I just did not view New York City as the same frightful place. Give me a map, a transit pass, and some cab fare, go. That's really all you need, well maybe a little more money and a fearless attitude. I've been a tourist and an expat lost in foreign lands for so long, nothing phases me. I've seen some crazy ish, stuck in the middle of nowhere-Cambodia/Philippines/Malaysia with oxen mooing at me, and lost in Bangkok ghettos, so why would the dirty streets of NY cause a stir? New York felt foreign just like the other cities I traveled to (Macau, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok), and just like I maneuvered through the concrete jungles of SE Asia, I did the same in NYC, feeling like I was conquering new territory.

Of course I still got lost. Even with my handy NYC Mate app, I realized the cray cray of MTA. Why is there no train connecting Queens to Brooklyn? They say use the G line, but according to one native New Yorker, it is the bastard child of Mass Transit. New York on the weekend is relaxed, and apparently so are the trains. They don't run as frequently, and some completely shut down after a certain time. I realized I do not like the subway system in New York. I actually prefer Chicago's elevated trains. At least I can see sunshine, breathe fresh air, and jump if a terrorist attacks. I also realized New Yorkers are very nice, helpful people. . . except when you ask for directions, because I also realized NOBODY really knows where they are going. It's like an unwritten rule that if you want to look like a New Yorker, you don't carry a map. Good thing I don't care. If I relied on people's false sense of "I know where I'm going" I would have never got home. Funny thing is, everything you need to know about the trains is written plain as day inside the subway on the Helvetica-printed signs. Good thing I can read.

Vietnamese New Year Celebration and Dragon Show

I didn't see fire breathers or men hanging water buckets from their eye lids in NYC, but I did see my fair share of street performers and skateboard acrobatics :-) 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

shifting, changing

Since I have returned to my home country from my self imposed exile I have not been inspired to write, but the spirit of writing about unconventional adventures is not dead, just dormant. I am sifting through ideas of where to take this blog or how to expand its reach Another physical trip may not happen soon but there are still journeys that I want to explore. Discovering my ethnic heritage is one I'd like to dive into. I am also passionate about the African-like cultures I learned of in the south pacific like the Melanesians or the Aborigines. Where did they really come from? Along with all that anthropology I am passionate about humanity, the way people are treated, in this country and abroad. So I may take my blog in the direction of humanitarian issues that relate to the places I've been.

One issue that came across my daily reading was human trafficking, which doesn't just happen in Thailand, it happens here, in America too. Jada Pinkett Smith has created a web space to get the word out and new music video (Jada can sang!) with her group Wicked Evolution. It melodically explains in Spanish the experience of a young girl caught up in a sex trade.

I present the video to you as a challenge. This week I challenge you to use your creative talents to produce a positive change. Ignore the superficial, minute simple conversations about hair, someone's personal views on trivial politics, and chicken sandwiches. Invest time in fighting and protesting serious, and unnecessary struggles that are negatively effecting people as I type.

Jada's Video 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pinks and Blues

One of many things to look forward to in summer is sitting outside and watching the sun set. Sure you can do this year-round, but it's more fun when you're beach side wearing a sarong instead of seven layers of clothing. As of now I have yet to see a sunset as beautiful as the ones I saw in the tropics of SE Asia. Here are a few moments captured when the sky is painted pink and blue:

"A  September dusk", View from my Viet balcony in HCMC
"A December Sunrise" in Palawan, Philappines
Almost up,  in Palawan, Philappines 
Bali Sunset
Boracay Sunset, Boracay, Philippines

Cambodian Sunrise, Angkor Wat
6:00 AM Sunrise, Angkor Wat Temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Sunrise, Gulf of Thailand, Absolute Sanctuary Resort, Koh Samui Island

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Have Learned the Secret!

If there was one reason why God sent me to live and work in a foreign land, less prosperous than the one I came from, then this verse says is beautifully: Philippians 4 verse 10-13

Thanks for Their Gifts

10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

gud thangs.

3 Good Things about living in Atlanta

1. Abundant choices of Black Hair products, especially at the World Natural Hair Show.
2. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, they just opened a new International Terminal too!
3. All kinds of sweeet-soulful-southern yummy food you can eat.