06 Oct '17  — My role in what's bad in the world
I’m still mostly vegetarian. But I’m trying to eat meat. Right now the texture is just too gross for me to handle.
As a vegetarian, people have assumptions that I love animals. And vegetarians are linked to ‘cruelty free’ living.
I never intended to be cruelty free, however, when it served me, I was ‘cruelty free’. It felt good to be a ‘positive’ improvement in the world. I was deluded enough to believe I had more of a positive impact than most.
Now I’m finally coming down to earth. I am not better than anyone. I’m not above committing carnage. Recognizing this, I can finally take responsibility for the death and destruction I’ve caused.
Last night I was cleaning the yard. I tore up the roots of plants. I killed a ton of bugs. I disturbed a rat and it had to come out of hiding. I was the sole cause of immense suffering.
Rather than hide from this identity, rather than pretending the vegetarian eating will offset my ‘badness’, I embraced the role I had on this planet, as a part in death and destruction. Whatever I do won’t prevent it and no amount of ‘goodness’ can bring back what’s dead, nor revive what’s been destroyed.
01 Oct '17  — face off
I’m watching the OJ Simpson show and I can’t help but notice John Travolta’s face. It looks as if it’s been preserved. His forehead, the skin next to his eyes, his cheeks…nothing moves.
On the Real Housewives shows, everyone has fake lips. They look ridiculous but I always thought, if you only socialize with others with big lips you’d feel conscious about not having them. It’d be ‘wrong’ not to get them.
Perhaps Travolta is the same. Everyone in Hollywood has frozen flesh. Nothing flaps the slightest. Movie stars probably meet only people who have flesh that barely moves.
Maybe it’s easier these days to only meet people who are similar. That’s the success of the social platforms. But I can’t help but think that the more I hang out with people who are similar, the more I lose touch with the world.
30 Sep '17  — A movie that jogged a memory
I watched The Tourist last night. I had low expectations knowing it’s one of those movies people love to hate.
But I was entertained. Low expectations had a role but also I’m obsessed with portegos, the living space above the watery first floor found on Venetian palazzos. There were a few scenes in the movie that allowed me to examine these spaces up close.
I’m not into how gaudy marble on marble with ornate accents look but the lofty dimensions and windows have always fascinated me.
I thought I had enough of the place but the atmosphere of the movie, especially the scenes at night, made me reminisce the moments I shared with my husband. There was suspense wandering down dark narrow walkways not knowing where it’d lead.
30 Sep '17  — I thought I was helpful but I really wasn't
“There is nothing to fear but fear itself.”
This quote used to pop in my head when I’d get slightly scared. ‘Don’t be scared.’ I’d tell myself. ‘Just be scared that you’re feeling scared–because that’s what’s making you scared. Not the scary thing.’
I thought if I convince myself out of being scared, I wouldn’t be scared anymore. All that did was distract me for a brief moment. It never worked.
Last year, my mom was often upset. My brother continued to play League of Legends until 5 in the morning and he stopped going to school. My mom was worried for his future and no matter how much yelling, she couldn’t get him to take school seriously. My mom often mentioned how there was nothing she could do to help him.
‘How would he make it as an adult?’ She had no power to improve his situation.
During that period, I talked to my mom a lot. At the time I believed I was helpful. Now I know I was just scared.
On our calls I’d try to find different ways for her to see the situation. No matter how much I rationalized that she shouldn’t be scared, my mom would go back to being upset. At times I found myself overwhelmed from talking. No amount of explaining could make her feel better. I became even more scared realizing I could be of no help.
Looking back, I can see how fear is to be feared. It has a way of spreading.
My persistence, in finding ways to pull my mom out of sadness, was driven by fear. I was not helping by bringing an energy of fear into our conversations. I also never questioned why I was so afraid of my mom feeling sad. I simply reacted–‘must make mom happy’.
The best thing to do was feel the fear and somehow find the courage not to react.
My mother found her way out of despair but I can’t say it had anything to do with me. At the very least, when I became aware of my own fear, I was able to make a decision that didn’t perpetuate additional fear.
29 Sep '17  — the end
I still feel like I’m going to be walking around this canal the rest of my life.
When I first arrived in Berlin, I was like the people in this photo: hanging out evening after evening outdoors and spending winters inside cafe bars. In the past couple years I hardly wanted to walk near the water. See those people on the bank? That area is infested with rats.
But that’s how I ended up living in Berlin. The place seemed so magical. Like these people, I hadn’t seen the rats.
It’s strange how different facets of a place are revealed over time. I felt as if the city welcomed me for a bit, then it didn’t.
28 Sep '17  — its better to watch nothing
I watch a lot of random youtube videos. Casey Neistat and Mimi Ikonn, it’s not because I like them–it’s because they’re available. They upload frequently and sometimes I can’t think of anything to watch. And I want to watch.
Professional youtubers are great at not making me motion sick. But steadying the cam shouldn’t be the reason I spend time entertaining their thoughts. I’ve had enough listening to perspectives counter to mine.
I feel like a disgruntled couch potato flipping through channels all day. After going through the full round of channels, I might be slightly more interested in one show, but only because it’s slightly better than whatever’s playing.
I’m wasting precious life by paying attention to perspectives I don’t believe in.
It feels terrible to do something I don’t believe in…spending time listening to people I don’t believe in.
I guess that’s where unrestrained laziness gets me.
21 Sep '17  — the illusion of a deal
I’ve been selling furniture on local listings online. It’s working better than I expected so I thought why not post items to give away for free as well?
On Free Your Stuff Berlin locals post items they want to give away. I posted a pair of boots. I got over 30 responses. Lots of people begging me to give them the boots over others.
I started with the first person. Super eager, she responded instantly. ‘When can I pick them up?’ After setting a time, she never showed up.
I messaged her and the lady said she buzzed my door but no one answered. She lied. Then she told me she’s heading over again. She never showed up.
The second person expressed extreme interest as well. I followed up with her and scheduled a pickup at 9:30 at night.
At 9:20pm, I received a message from her with a long explanation on how she was tired, how she had an incredible amount of work and couldn’t come. She suggested a later date.
I wanted the shoes out immediately. I’d already spent so much energy scheduling and waiting. The third person was excited because the shoes were her favorite brand. I asked what time she’d come by. She never answered.
The following day, I left the shoes outside my door. They were gone in a few minutes.
In Berlin people leave items they want to give away outside their door. I’ve collected many items for my own home. Plates, bowls, mugs…I’ve got plenty of giveaway items.
Like the other ladies, I overvalued the items because they were free. Since we’re moving, I’ve had to decide which items to keep and which to throw away. None of the items I got for free were worthy of saving.
By taking free items, I incurred a cost. My kitchen cabinets were crammed with too many cups and dishes. Every time I unloaded the dishwasher, I had difficulty figuring out where to place things and eventually, I had to stack things up.
When opening the cupboard, I’d have to be extra careful to make sure stacked cups wouldn’t fall. I didn’t need those extra cups or dishes. My life became more difficult.
I thought I was getting a deal by picking up items that were free.
tempting, even in the middle of July
All those items that were ‘free’…it was just an illusion they were free. If I really needed something, I would’ve already gone out to procure it. One of the free items I spotted and picked up was a pretty serving dish. When I saw it, I imagined how I’d use it. How I ‘needed’ it. ‘Oh if we have guests over we can place an assortment of nuts and it’ll look nice.’
The occasion rarely came up. We had people over but sometimes we didn’t have nuts. The serving dish sat in my cupboard hogging up space and made it inconvenient to pull things in and out.
It’s hard to anticipate the cost of free.
18 Sep '17  — Flavors of freedom
Today I read about a couple who lives a Victorian lifestyle. Sarah Chrisman washes up in a bowl and pitcher every morning. Gabriel Chrisman rides a high-wheel bicycle. They use a stash of ice in their ice box to cool milk and diary products.
I’ve had plenty of years imagining what it’d be like to live as a Victorian. My favorite American Girl was Samantha from 1904. Never have I thought it’d make sense to live that era out.
“We’re not trying to convince everyone to live the way we do. What we do want to convince everyone to do is to examine their assumptions and realize they’re in control of the way they live. They can choose a lot of their culture, their technology, their way of being.”
“And our big…real big push that we really really try to get across to people is, we want everyone to follow their dreams. It may not be the same dreams we have but we think everyone should go for them.”
Since I’ve started writing more by hand, I’ve become aware how technology shapes my life. With pen and paper, I’m not glued to a screen. I’m not a click away from going online. I can’t easily get distracted and my posture is different.
The physical act of preparing food also gets me thinking differently, far more than when I grab food outside. Restaurants are technology, it’s a way to outsource meal production to a place that serves meals fast. When I cook, there are moments where I’m watching the food sizzle. There’s time to reflect.
How do these choices relate to achieving my dreams? Although I found this couple odd at first, I agree with everything they say.
It’s easy to identify a dream as an end result: ‘My dream is to be wealthy. My dream is to be the mayor one day.’ Instead, dreams should answer ‘what do you want to do for the rest of your life?’ or ‘how do you want to spend your time each day?’
It takes a lot of effort to know what lifestyle you want. Figuring it all out at once is impossible, but slowly, I’ve picked some things out. I want to be in a place where I can think and write everyday, be close to nature, I want to be in a place where I can cook healthy food and be around people to share it. I also want a place where I can sit by the campfire and enjoy the moon and stars each night.
My dream doesn’t look anything like this couple’s, but the intention is the same: spend the rest of my days doing what I like.
13 Sep '17  — 'If only...'
My dad wishes he had gone to college. He talks about the times people offered him a job or promotion but was then denied once they was found out he didn’t graduate college.
Because he was denied a stable career, my dad had to be resourceful, find ways to get a steady stream of income to feed his family. He has the ability to make money much better than I ever will. I went to college and grad school.
Whenever I hear one of his stories, I always think, ‘if you went to school, you wouldn’t have been resourceful enough to be presented opportunities in the first place. That whole path would’ve always been denied.’
He’s remorseful about ‘missing out’. From my perspective, he was not going to get those opportunities even with a college degree. I, with my education, have never been offered a job without interview. Spending time studying, I didn’t have opportunities to be resourceful. He would have missed out with an education.
I haven’t been sleeping well. Mosquitos have never been in our apartment, but starting a few weeks back, a mosquito would buzz in my ear whenever they knew I was asleep. Waking me up, over and over, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting in bed.
There’s always some disturbance at night. When I first moved in, our neighbor wouldn’t stop stomping on the ceiling even in the middle of the night.
During the winter, there were sounds from the heater that kept us awake. One month in the summer, a neighbor of ours would start playing his piano at 2am. Then there are the people who had lengthy conversations in the courtyard. The walls of the building amplified their voices. I couldn’t escape.
I was pissed at the neighbor, the piano player, the people in the courtyard, the heater, the mosquitos. Each time I thought, if only these things weren’t making noise, I could get some sleep. If the heater would get fixed, I could sleep. If my neighbors would stop stomping I could sleep.
Somehow, there was always something new to disturb my sleep. I still have the same neighbor. Have I gotten immune to her steps? If the mosquitos went away, would I be undisturbed?
Perhaps there was no way around having a sleepless night. Just like my dad, who was not capable of getting on a stable career path, I am incapable of getting a good night’s rest.
Is it really the mosquitos?
12 Sep '17  — When to quit
In college I was jealous of my roommate.
‘How does she know when to break up?’ I wondered how she could be so mature.
During that time, I was in a dysfunctional relationship where I should’ve broken up. I was lazy, not ready to bear the volatility of single life. Letting the relationship drag, I liked the person less and less until I was completely repulsed.
I could have stopped earlier. We would have parted on positive terms.
My roommate had the foresight to know when to quit. She’d feel sad breaking up but it allowed her to improve her situation. I was inspired but too scared to live it.
A month ago, I came across a pair of blue linen pants at the bottom of my drawer. They look great but when I sat, they were a bit too tight to be comfortable. In the two years I’ve had them, never once did I wear them.
I couldn’t let them go. And these were not the only clothes that I had trouble with. I found a jacket, pants, several shirts and a few dresses…hadn’t touch them for years but couldn’t throw them out.
It was a hassle to move around my bedroom. My dresser drawers were too full to close. I’d run into them all the time.
Last weekend I broke up with all my extraneous clothing. It’s easy to start hating life when results of suboptimal choices linger.
Now I have so much space. I can actually choose my clothes rather than pick only from the top of the pile.
Why didn’t I do this earlier? How can I have the foresight to let go? I’d have to be more aware, notice what’s not working. Life CAN be better.