Monday, March 03, 2014
Last I wrote, I was in Prague, Czech Republic. I then made it to Brno, Czech Republic; followed by Bratislava, Slovakia; Budapest, Hungary; Zagreb, Croatia; Ljubljana, Slovenia; and now, Bled, Slovenia.
People keep asking: how can you visit a city in just a day and a half? Trust me, it works. The train is so relaxing. I leave one city about 2pm and usually arrive before 11pm in the new city. I use my wifi at the train station (most have wifi at the station, or city-wide free wifi, or I find a café or restaurant or McDonalds) to find a hostel nearby, and I always seek one out that has one of the free walking tours of the city. The free walking tours always start about 11am. I walk to the hostel and in so doing see the city at night. I arrive at the hostel and check in. I inevitably meet a bunch of people. I then go out for a bite to eat and a walk around the city, either solo or with others from the hostel. Then off to bed or to a club/bar. In the morning, I wake up early enough to make the 11am walking tour. I always meet more people on the tours. I learn about the history of the city, and see the major sites. It's free, but the guides work for tips, so I give about 7 - 10 euros depending on how much things cost in that city. Then I usually eat lunch with someone(s) from the tour and we then walk around the city more together, either going to a museum or seeing more sites. Then dinner, and do something in the city at night. Finally, look at the train schedule and decide what time to leave the next day for the next city. Sometimes I leave that night; sometimes I stay till the next day. Then I get on the train and go to the next city and start all over again.
And... I honestly feel like I've seen enough of the city and have learned enough of its history to say "I've been there." And I have inevitably added at least 2 or 3 more people to my facebook friends list.
Prague and Brno, Czech Republic: Czech Kroner
Bratislava, Slovakia: Euro
Budapest, Hungary: Hungarian Florind
Zagreb, Croatia: Croatian Kuna
Ljublana and Bled, Slovenia: Euro
So just like in the 90s when I was in Europe, I have all these different currencies in my pockets!
As I wrote on Facebook, Ljubljana is probably one of the prettiest nicest cities in all of Europe. The main square alone brings much to this city. Just amazing. And here in Bled, with the snow covered Slovenian Alps surrounding Bled Lake; it is just magical. It's truly an amazing country.
Prague was cool, but Brno was cooler because it's just like Prague, but no tourists. It's the second biggest city in all of Czech Republic. I didn't plan on stopping in Brno but I met a new friend on the train who convinced me I should visit her city. So I got off the train with her and she showed me around. She goes to school there, so I got a true local tour guide, which was really cool. I met another student in Prague who did the same: showed me around. It's really cool when you meet someone local who can show you their city. And I have to cool friends in Czech Republic now--something I certainly didn't have two weeks ago!
Bratislava: another pretty city, but two things I have noticed: a) these eastern European cities are all really pretty and not what I expected to see but b) they all do start to look similar after a while: the main square; the tram system; the cobblestone streets; the castles which are in nearly all of them; etc. But I loved Bratislava too, and would definitely go back to visit each of these cities. In Bratislava, I ran along the Danube at night after arriving at the Hostel, and wow, how amazing it was. So beautiful! That new bridge is architecturally stunning.
Budapest? Now that's a country with a history. Invaded and occupied by the mongols. Then the Turks. Then the Nazis. Then the communists. Jeesh, what a tough history. I'm proud that this people made it through all that. Wow.
Next stop: Zagreb, Croatia. Loved that city too. Croatia truly is as beautiful as they say it is. I need to return in the summer. And visit Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, Greece, etc.
Then Ljubljana. Oh: the trains. Absolutely the BEST way to travel. For me anyway. I love being able to read; sleep; eat dinner (they serve such yummy food on these European trains); and meet new friends. And there are usually outlets to charge my devices. But rarely wifi. The only wifi I had was on the train from Oslo, Norway to Stockholm, Sweden. After that, zilch. And it would be nice to be able to research hostels; talk to friends; etc onboard. It's not the end of the world, but if the train system could be improved in just one way, this would be it.
I really want to do the same in North America and Canada one day. I think they have a eurorail type pass too for Amtrak and Canadian's rail system, but it's a lot more expensive, and I guess it makes sense: American and Canada combined is like ten times the size of Europe.
I stayed in Ljublana for 2 1/2 days because a) it's a beautiful city, and b) my eurorail pass ran out, and c) I met some cool people like this guy Anthony from Canada who has some amazing stories, one of which is how two months ago, in Bulgaria, he lost EVERYTHING: passport, wallet, money, bag, clothing. His story of how he put his life back together with nothing is pretty awesome. He didn't leave Europe at all, and I'm impressed with his fortitude and determination. Though he did tell me how totally demoralized it made him, and I can totally imagine.
Anyway, I wasn't sure where to go next: Venice, Rome, Salzburg, Vienna, Lugano, Stockholm, where? My 15-day eurorail pass ran out so I didn't have to rush off anywhere to get my money's worth. So I looked at a map. I asked around. So many people told me about Bled, and the mountains and the lake. I also got word from Helen that my China work visa paperwork arrived in Rome, so I need to go back there to visit the Chinese embassy at some point soon. But I also want to meet a friend in Vienna, and maybe go back to Berlin to see more of the sites there. I didn't know what to do. I made a tentative plan to head to Venice by way of Austria (cause no trains go direct, which is weird) and went to bed. I woke up and Anthony said he was heading to Bled. I checked the map and it's on the way to Venice, so why not! I checked out with him, and together we jumped on a bus for Bled. That's where I am now.
We're in the Castle Hostel. It's near... the castle. :) Right by the lake. It's like a frat house here because we've got about 9 guys from all around the world: Finland, Lebanon, Spain, Canada, and me, the rep for the United States. No girls. It's kinda cool. We're all in the hangout room. On our computers. Some are playing Fifa on the new PS4. All laughing and talking. Makes me smile. A nice bromance as one of the guys joked.
Anthony and I walked around the lake today (6km) and then hiked up the mountain to the castle. It was a steep hike up. An even steeper and longer hike down in pitch darkness on a path we could barely see covered in snow, mud, and puddles, and hundreds of fallen trees--the result of a huge snowstorm two weeks ago that destroyed over 40% of the trees in Slovenia. Even on the bus you could see the devastation. Trees down everywhere, uprooted from the heavy weight of the icy snow.
Tomorrow? Off to Venice in the mid morning. For one day. Then Rome, back to Helen and Roberto's place. Helen and I are going to see "12 Years a Slave" together at 8pm, so I need to plan my train plans accordingly to be sure to arrive in time. How cool: I'm in Slovenia now and in two days I'm gonna be in Rome to catch a movie with a great friend. haha. Awesome.
And then, off to the embassy to get my visa squared away for China. Then I think up to Vienna, maybe Berlin, I don't know. I think I may skip Lugano after all. I'm surprised. Maybe next time. It just doesn't seem crucial for me to visit. But we'll see. Three weeks ago I never would have guessed I would be in Bled, Slovenia tonight!
Emotionally? Doing fantastically. I feel wonderful. I haven't felt this great in the longest time. Someone asked me today what makes me happy. I still don't completely know, but I do know that working a tedious 9 - 5 job certainly makes me miserable. And I know that these last three weeks traveling have been amazing and wonderful. The freedom is just fantastic. Meeting all these amazing people just incredible. And never having the same day twice, and rarely being in the same city more than two days, just magical. It's a weird weird feeling. And I'm even happier here traveling around by myself than I was for four weeks in Castres. I honestly have more friends just spending two days in each city at the hostels than I did in four weeks' time in Castres. Maybe because the people I meet in these hostels are just like me: adventurers; free-spirits; rebels; travelers. Not tourists: TRAVELERS. There is a huge difference. I am not a tourist; I am a traveler. And I love it. And as 'nervous' as I am about heading to China, I am also getting more and more excited. In less than two weeks, I will be in Shanghai. CRAZY!
My big fear is that again I will be working a '9-5' job, but with two qualifications: it will be from 1-9pm, and it will be in China doing something totally different than what I was doing back in NY. So my fingers are crossed that I am going to like it and enjoy myself there.
Okay, gotta go find something to eat. OH! Looks like we may be getting United States distribution for our film, "You Can't Kill Stephen King" after all. Things are a bit murky at the moment, but looking quite promising. I really hope to have great news to share with you soon.
Goodnight from Slovenia.
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Just as I said, some days you feel really alone; some days you feel loved and part of something great. Yesterday, I met a bunch of cool people:
a) After the walking tour, I went to the train station to inquire about train times to Budapest and Bratislava.On way out I passed this Czech girl, and talked to her. She was receptive. Surprisingly. We had coffee. We walked around together and we decided to meet again today for lunch.
b) I met this American guy at the hostel named Phillip. An investment guy from Los Angeles, and we walked around and had a most delicious dinner together: traditional Czech pork, dumplings, and sauerkraut. So delicious!
I hope I'm right.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Prague, Czech Republic
Sad to say, as a result of that breakup, I’ve now become one of those saps who can’t be happy if he’s single, or not hanging out with a girl, or hanging out with someone. In years past, I used to think nothing of women and nothing of being alone. And now, I can’t think of anything but being with other people; of hanging out with a girl; of NOT being alone. It pisses me off that my damn self-esteem appears now to be based on that. But this trip alone is certainly helping me to reestablish my ability to be on my own and love myself once again. Cause I AM F***IN AWESOME! (As Nirvana's Lithium blares at the hostel bar)
Next city: Berlin. As always, by train. What a historically rich city with such a sad past. I went on two walking tours. The free one, and then one called "Red Berlin". The city is amazing, but it's also so depressing. Walking around, in many ways, it still felt like 1960s Russia. It just has this old creepy feel to it. Like there is no heart and soul to the city. I know some people may take offense at this, but it's just the feeling I got walking around. The 'buzz' and 'adrenaline' of other cities just wasn't there. FUCK YOU BERLIN WALL AND FUCK YOU COMMUNISM FOR WHAT YOU DID!
I'm at the Mosaic hostel here in Prague. Probably the closest thing to a hotel yet. It is so gorgeous and the bathroom is huge and amazing and fancy. Generator hostel in Berlin and Copenhagen.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Wow, been a while since I posted. And I've been to quit a few places. Five countries to be precise.
In Barcelona, Spain, I met this cool girl from Argentina and she joined me on my drive back north to Paris, France. We stopped in Castres to pick up my suitcase, and then stayed in Limoge for one night, and then made our way finally to Paris where we stayed in St. Christopher's hostel for three nights. Paris is definitely a nice city, but I still think I like Barcelona more.
On the 12th, I drove Elena to the bus station (she was heading back to Spain, and then Argentina), and I dropped the rental car off at the airport. I then flew down to Rome. A short two hour flight. I was gonna take the train and subway to my friend Roberto's apartment, but I had three bags and my guitar. Just too much. So I hired a shuttle for about $30 to take me there. Oddly, I met two more Argentinians in the shuttle: a businessman/banker and his daughter. We exchanged info.
I spent the night at Roberto's apartment. Helen is there too. Engaged finally to one another. I went to law school with both of them. They were getting their LLM though. Me my JD. He from Rome; she from Bulgaria. But she's black. So she's not the typical Bulgarian. Anyway, SO good to see them. I felt at home immediately, and could relax. Sort of like my base camp for this trip. I didn't think just one night there would refresh me enough for the journey ahead of me, but it did. A nice shower. They cooked me dinner. Introduced me to this awesome guy Ralph, from Poland. This staunch anti-communist/anti-socialist who reveled with me in bashing the foolish social policies in America. It pains him as it does me to see what so many Americans do not: that the country is on a path towards too much government power. Power that can only lead to things going from bad to worse. He loved me "Reagan for President" t-shirt, and agreed with me that most Americans just don't understand what too much government power can do. He grew up in a Poland under the USSR. So did his parents. They know firsthand (like Ayn Rand) the horrors of government oppression; most Americans are either uneducated in history or so ensconced in the bubble of America and so poorly-traveled that they are just ignorant parrots, echoing the sentiments of the media.
Anyway, I had a great time there, did some laundry, and in the morning, I head off onto the subway, and then the train (I just had one bad now, for travel, one that I bought in Paris because a) I had too much stuff and b) the wheels on my other small one broke so I needed a new one) to the airport. Leonardo's Express. So glad I speak Italian well. Most of those I spoke with didn't speak English (unlike here in Scandinavia, where everyone--EVERYONE (virtually)--speaks English).
So from Rome, I took a flight to Oslo, Norway. And I'm so tired that I need to take a nap on this train. I will continue this story shortly. :)
Thursday, February 06, 2014
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Dancing. Hiphop. Tap. House. In the middle of Place Jean Jaures. A huge square in the middle of town. In the rain. By myself. With my iPhone providing the tunes. People walking by. Smiling at me. Some dancing a bit too. And the joy just surging through my veins. Before I started dancing, I felt a bit low. But as soon as I began dancing--wow--I just felt joy! Real joy! And it lasted for a long time afterwards too. This is something I need to remember: when sad, dance. And in a public place if possible! I remember doing the same in Grand Central Terminal on so many occasions and the very same effect came over me: joy. And people smiling. Dancing along with me. I sure don't have the solution to sadness, but I do know now how to bring a little bit of joy into my life. Truly, I don’t think anything leaves me feeling such joy and happiness as dancing. I started dancing in low spirits; when I was done an hour later, I was on top of the world. I’m not sure what it is. Dancing in open spaces? The songs? The rhythms? The people who see me dancing and smile, or even come and dance a little with me? All of it together, it’s bliss. And I need to remember that as a way to get me out of my moods. DANCE!
Which is good, because my internal mood swings are an ever present troubling parasite eating away at whatever consistent contentedness I might ever feel! Ha! It’s so weird that after sharing with my actor friend V how terrible I seem to always feel, he wrote something like, “Wow, you would never know it, given how productive you are and how much you are able to get done.” Looks are clearly deceiving. And I know that keeping busy is a way to keep my mind from thinking too much. And it thinks WAY too much as it is.
Anyway, that was Wednesday. That afternoon, in town, I also did a 1-minute full sprint and then a 12-minute jog, with no pain whatsoever, which really pleases me. I'm really hoping that my hamstring is on its way to recovery. I'm still concerned about China, and jogging/biking there, with all the smog...
On Wednesday, I also studied Swedish, German, and Turkish, as well as Norwegian, Russian, and Arabic. And of course, French.
After each day of school, I’m super tired when I get home. Busy long days. Every day. I’m always exhausted at night. Maybe it’s the damn cat: it scratches on my door at about 3am every morning. It is SO annoying. It wakes me EVERY night. If I leave the door open, it comes in and starts jumping on EVERYTHING, knocking everything over and making an even more disruptive racket. A catch-22. I could kill the cat I suppose... But then I might not have a place to sleep. See, catch 22! :)
I’m realizing too now that maybe two months here is just enough time. I’m totally comfortable here by now, and yet I still have 5 ½ weeks to go. And I’m really starting to understand the tv shows. The shows like CSI Miami, and Castle, etc. There are more American tv shows here than there are French tv shows. Dramas like that. NCIS. Elementary. I sorta feel like I'm home. I think by the time I leave my French will be double what it is right now, and I will be able to continue my refinement simply by continuing to read French books, watching 7Jours and Yabla videos, and watching movies with French dubs. For the first time in my life, I KNOW that I am going to become fully fluent in another language, and wow, it makes me feel awesome.
I'm happy also to report that the China Visa is coming along. I have to send them a rescan of the first page of the China work contract and voila, they will take care of the rest. I have to choose which Embassy to visit to pick it up. Barcelona? Paris? Rome? I'm frankly not sure. Gotta think about this.
I studied a bunch of Babbel languages yesterday: Dutch, German, French, Danish, and Spanish. I also practiced the Arabic alphabet in my workbook, studied German and French from my books, and I read a lot in Du Bonheur. Again, it makes me smile a bit to know how many ancient philosophers from Aristotle, Plato, and Diogenes to Kierkegard, Rousseau, and Freud all had questions and theories on happiness too. I’m not the only one… with mixed emotions. I'm not the only one who hasn't quite figured out this thing called: "Life".
People keep asking me WHY? Re: the languages? I have no definitive reason for studying them so intently; it’s just fun, and occupies my time. Gives me something to do to get my mind off myself. To help me stop thinking so much about myself and my life. And I enjoy doing so. And I enjoy the smiles it brings when I speak to someone in their native tongue. All this travel? I have no definitive reason for any of this either. To get away from all that plagued me at home? To broaden my horizons? Again, because it’s fun? I guess the answers are all yes.
I think about *her* constantly. And when I’m not thinking of her, I’m thinking about how disappointed I am that I can’t find anyone who wants to take her place. Going on two years, and nada. I’m reminded of the line from the tv show “Scandal”. Horace says “Some people are meant to be happy; others are meant to be great.” It pains me to think that I am in the latter category. But I strain to believe that it’s possible to be both great and happy. "Strain" meaning that I am trying my hardest to do so but it seems difficult. My readings in my happiness books must clearly continue.
On a similar note: In Joel Osteen’s book, “Breakout” he writes, “Some people ask the question ‘What if it never happens?’ I like to ask, ‘What if it does?’” Something like that. And it’s an inspiring truthful way of looking at things. Everything is based on perspective. The difficulty is in changing that perspective for any considerable length of time. I know the truth: that any day—even today—I could find the girl of my dreams; find a wonderful new opportunity; learn to once again smile like I did; be happy with where my life has taken me; etc. And yet, ‘any day’ also seems like an eternity; like a really long time. My friend Max wrote to me, “You may find her tomorrow, or in two years!” Oh lovely. The tomorrow part is fine; the two years part is the killer. And it’s not the two years that is such a drag; it’s the ‘meanwhile’. One of my new Monroe Mann quotes is, “Time is a healer, but waiting’s a bitch.” And that’s the issue: the waiting. The waiting. The waiting. Patience patience patience. I’m just sick of it. I know that patience does not mean waiting; it means being steadfast despite opposition, but the opposition just never ceases. And it seems every day I am reminded of what I lost in Louisa: she was absolutely amazing. And now she’s gone. And I am off now vagabonding the world.
Back to the day to day: School has been fine. This past week I taught most of the classes the lyrics to my song, “The Sun is Always Shining Somewhere”. Gonna bring my guitar in tomorrow and we’re gonna have a few mini concerts this week. That should be fun. Gonna hand out some of my CDs too.
I’m also planning the trip to Barcelona. I expect that I will head to Barcelona this next weekend. Which means I need to finish my UofU assignments this week. Preferably today if I can.
My life here is becoming rather routine. Go to the school during the week. Walk around the city in the afternoon/evening. Chill out at Subway while reading and having a snack. Talk to the Turkish people at ParisIstanbul. Dance/Run on Wednesdays. And on the weekends, have the family meal at V's mom's house with Laura, Adrian, and hang out around the house and maybe go into town. Nothing truly exciting going on anymore. But I suppose that is the point of staying for a long while in another country: it starts to just feel ‘normal’ and ‘boring’. Just like I felt in Iraq after a few months: normal and boring, with an occasional terrifying brush with incoming enemy fire!
Interesting side note: V's sister has down syndrome, and a very serious case, so she is not able to really interact with anyone. She lives at the parents' house, and I see her every weekend when we go there for lunch. We went yesterday (as per the norm) and also today we shall do the same because it's V's mom's bday (Marie). Oh gosh, yesterday, I was STUFFED. So much food. It's killing me. Truly. I'm gonna become so fat or explode--one of the two. And today, it's Marie's BIRTHDAY: can you imagine? I don't want to imagine how much food there is going to be today. Oh my. Oh man. Anyway, this is the first time I've ever really interacted with someone with down syndrome on a regular basis. Usually she is quiet, but there is often a rumbling of noises she makes while eating. Those with down syndrome have a larger tongue than others (so Marie has told me) and for this reason, this is why her tongue is often protruding from her mouth. When eating, yes, there is a lot of drool, and the food gets all over her mouth, and at first, it was really disgusting to look at, but in time, I've come to just accept her as she is and realize that she's not doing it on purpose. And the other day, when I came in and said "Bonjour, Fanny" (Short for Stephanie), she said in return, "Bonjour, Monroe". The pronunciation was poor (but then again, even Americans have a hard time saying my name sometimes haha) but what touched me was that she remembered my name. How did she do that? And she smiled. It really touched me. And so we have a little bit of a relationship now, and I can see that despite the difficulties in raising her (she must be in her 30s or 40s now), I can also see how she is a loveable person too. And in fact... enviable, for she, most certainly, is far happier than perhaps any of us. Ignorance is bliss is it not?
Earlier today, I read more in my French ‘happiness workbook’ and also started another new book, “Je pense trop” (I think too much). It’s amazing that I can read these French psychology books as easily as I can read them in English. It’s amazing that my new hobby is reading books in French! Without a dictionary! Yes, there are words I don’t know and I underline them to look up later, but it’s only about five words per page, which is not much. And watching television: I am finally starting to break through the cloud. Each day it seems I understand more and more. Whereas it used to be a chore to read and watch tv, now it’s actually fun, and enjoyable.
One thing I really liked in the workbook is that positive visualizations are all fine and dandy, but in order for them to really take root, you need to do them at least five to ten times a day. The same visualization. They even recommend twenty times. To think of the same positive visualization TWENTY times a day. Pretty wild. I never would have imagined to do that on my own, thinking it was overkill, but to hear it from an objective third party, it somehow seems to make sense. Maybe that is the key to my feeling better: to make a deliberate attempt to visualize good things and positive futures MANY TIMES during the day. They suggest starting with something you know is attainable, so I am starting with the positive visualization of my finished novel, in book stores. Okay, that's twice now I have visualized it today. :) haha. Onward! On that note, gonna be sure to write another 1000 words today. And I guess I need to start visualizing myself as happy, with a girlfriend, and lots of friends, and lots of love...
And staying off Facebook. Not looking at the posts of others. THAT is a CERTAIN recipe for feeling better. That damn "Facebook Envy". It's real, and ever so powerful. It makes me so sad and so envious and so angry and so bitter. Facebook is a terrible terrible thing! It really is! I am glad I can message with people, but ugh, it's also a really easy way to get down on yourself. So if any of you are sad and use Facebook a lot, consider that there is probably a connection, just as psychological studies have shown.
Okay, time to get on with my day. Gonna read "The Seeds of Success" again by Og Mandino from his amazing book, "Mission: Success" before heading off to lunch. If you haven't yet read this book... do so. This week.
Au revoir! Et je vous souhaite beaucoup de bonheur!!!
P.S. - What do the French do when they are not hungry? EAT!
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Well, imagine this. Which happened last week. Not for the first, or the last time: I walked into the bathroom in the café at school. Lights came on. Walked into a stall. Sat down. Began to do what I needed to do. And then... LIGHTS GO OUT!
No big deal, right? Just wave my hands?
Let me assure you: no amount of hand waving will turn those lights on again. So imagine me, sitting on the toilet, in pitch black, with my pants around my ankles, frantically waving my hands, and my torso back and forth. After 60 seconds, and stretching in every possible direction, I realized I had no choice. I had to wipe in the dark.
At least in the Army when I had to do that, I had the light of the moon. But not in Europe. Europe won't even afford me the light of the moon!
I received an email that my copy of "La Firme" by John Grisham arrived at the bookstore. So yesterday, after having another delicious lunch with the family (this time at V's parents' house, like every Saturday--pork sausage, homemade mashed potatoes from real potatoes, homemade applesauce from real apples, etc.), V drove me to three places:
a) to three rental car places to compare the prices of rental cars. She refused to speak to them in order to force me to practice my French, and voila, I did just fine. Hertz is the best deal for 7 days and 30 days, and ADA is the best deal for 3. I intend to drive to Barcelona if not next weekend, then the weekend after that.
b) to the center of town. I dropped off one pair of my dress pants at the dry cleaners, and then walked to the book store. More on that in a moment.
c) to the post office. Closed, but now I know where it is, and I need to start figuring out how much it will cost to ship things to China.
At the bookstore: I went in for one reason. To pick up my copy of "The Firm" in French. So I can begin analyzing the novel for form and structure. I ended up leaving with over 200E of books, all in French. Five books on happiness; two on relationships and love; a few history books; Alexis de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America"; Hugo's "Les Miserables"; and all that. The other day, when I found myself on page 65 of "Du Bonheur", I realized for the first time that reading in French is no longer a chore like it was ten years ago. Now... it's a pleasure! Cause I understand 90% of the words! I still underline the words I don't know, but it's only for me to look up later. So I realized that wow, I can buy any book I want in a French book store and actually enjoy reading it! So I'm curious to see what French psychologists and philosophers have to say on the subject of happiness. I bought one too called, "Je pense trop" or "I think too much". It is often said that the more intelligent you are, the more your brain works, and thus the less 'ignorant' you tend to be. As we all know, ignorance is bliss. I therefore, am the opposite: I know that I'm a smart guy, and it's so hard for me to turn off my brain sometimes. Drives me crazy. So I'm curious to see what they have to say. (I also bought books on how to read and write Japanese and Arabic characters).
Last night (Saturday), I worked for many hours on my homework for UofU (University of Utah) where I am getting my certificate in Positive Psychology. Did a lot of reading and writing on self-forgiveness. What really resonated with me is that when one does a wrong, it destroys ones self-respect. I learned, therefore, that self-forgiveness is all about the process of regaining ones self-respect. I also learned that self-forgiveness is often not a linear process. As drug addict and felon turned attorney Richard Dyer wrote, "Relapse is a part of recovery". Not only is his story amazing, but he helped me to realize that when you are overcoming some terrible life event or defeat, you can't expect to have a linear recovery process: you are going to fall back down again (possibly many times) on your journey towards redemption.
The other night, another delicious dinner. Pizza. Friday night. Just imagine, pizza in France with all of their amazing cheeses. Wow, so so delicious. It seems as if France has mastered every dish imaginable. The other day, Veronique asked me what I liked to eat in terms of seafood. I told her the only thing I like: les crevettes. Shrimp. Well, last night, guess what she made? Shrimp. O my, so delicious. I am being spoiled here so much! I can't go back to tv dinners and McDonald's back home! haha. On that note, no, I haven't yet eaten at McDonald's (or McDo as they call it here) but I must. I'm sure the burgers there are just as delicious as everything else in this country.
I spoke with my friend N. back in San Fran last night and today. She and I used to date. She told me she'd help me find my dream girl if I help her find her dream job, haha. She wrote to me today, "I can say from personal experience that your accomplishments are alluring and sexy. While at the same time freaking intimidating." Oh great. So that's why I don't have a girlfriend: I'm too cool. Lovely. I've heard this before from a lot of girls, and it's not something that makes me smile. Cause it means the potential pool of girlfriends is even more narrow for me as I grow more accomplished and do more.
I wrote on Facebook something that my friend Vic shared with me. He wrote to me the other day: "Amazing is a too often used word but describes you to a T. Sleeping on the ice? Teaching in France? You are the single most incredible, world-class person I have ever had the pleasure to meet. You eclipse even the big stars I have met and chatted with. It is just a matter of time till the world discovers you. You are like an alien, like some hybrid pod person that is a dozen people in one. What are you thinking of doing next? Climb a skyscraper? Perform in a drag show? Winning the hot dog competition? Building a rocket? You probably know the secret to area 51! Romp on bud!"
I actually do know the secret to area 51, but I can't tell you. Sorry. :) But truly, my life is such a paradox. Everyone thinks I am so cool, and yet, I lead such a lonely life, filled with sadness, and unhappiness.
I was going to take a train to Toulouse today, to visit, but it's raining and cloudy. Instead I'm gonna read more in Du Bonheur, Americans in Paris, and also some of my new books. I'm also going to finish my latest Japanese lesson at Living Language on telling time, and write another 1000 words MINIMUM in my novel, "Soul STASIS". Probably gonna work on some other languages too, and watch some French tv as well. And begin writing chapter 1 of my PhD dissertation. And rest well too, cause tomorrow, classes start at 8am, and I have to teach about 7 of them. Monday is my most grueling day here. Phew.
Oh, one interesting quotation I read that I wanted to share. It's in French. "S'attacher trop vite, c'est souffrir par la suite" = If you attach youself too quickly, you end up suffering. But in French, it rhymes. I am thinking of writing a song using that as the chorus. We shall see. But it is the essence of Buddhism. Nonattachment. And I find that I get attached emotionally to girls way too easily, and then get my heart broken. So this quotation resonated strongly with me. Can't forget it!
Oh, one last thing: VPNs. Through a friend of a friend who lives in China, I found some good recommendations for VPNs. Virtual Proxy Networks. So I can access google and facebook and youtube etc from Shanghai. I thought it would be expensive, but it's only about $100 per year. Not bad at all...
I feel like there is so much more I want to say, but I'm at a lost for words at the moment. Besides, I have a million things to do today, and I don't want to waste the day. Today is... all we've got.
A la prochaine!