21 June, 2020

Taking Back My Year

I have wasted a quarter of the year. (By Lunar Year standards)
I'm done. 
I'm taking back my year.

I'm using the lunar year because a)It's in my head due to the book I'm working on
b) We arrived home in Vietnam from my sister's funeral on Tết Eve. That is to say, "Lunar New Year Eve". When we woke up at home the next morning in Vietnam, it was "Year of the Rat". I was born in "Year of the Rat", so this IS. MY. YEAR! I just need to do what I need to do.

Knowing that this was a new year, I declared that this was going to be a great year, with no more death, and all good things!

Then came Covid. Crap. My city basically died. This should be tourist season, but I'm watching friends flounder with no tourists to do business with. When Covid hit the US, I floundered, too. Family and friends didn't understand the seriousness. Somehow, I took that personally.  No more.

Then race issues happened in the States that cannot be ignored. As one who used to work with law enforcement and adopted the "blue" lives stance after hearing their side years ago, I know there are multiple sides to the protests and riots in the US, but this time, I fall firmly on the #BLM side. I floundered again.

But I'm taking my year back. I lost a quarter of it to death, grief, disease, riots... basically the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The Year of the Rat began on January 25. I still have 3/4 of the year until the year of the Ox begins on February 11, 2021. 

My family will do what they will. I'm not ignoring them, but I've slipped back into everyone's comfort zone of not discussing heavy stuff. 😕 What can I say. Everyone is better off.

This is MY year. I need to focus on my own self.

I am bumping up my exercise. Not just so that I feel better about my "covid body" but also to give me more energy and improve my actual health.

I do something in my written WIP every day. Days that are busy, I might just review what I did the day before. I'm in editing mode, so word count doesn't really matter, but I count anyway. Some days are 100-ish. Some are upwards of 700. I'm happy with that.

I'm doing my best to walk more again. I got out of the habit during Covid, and now that there's no real disease danger it's freakin' hot, so I am less motivated. But I'm doing better. 

I'm being more social with people actually near me. Not ignoring those far away, but calling every couple weeks is enough. The people around me are the ones who I need to address daily.

I'm reading. Book goals. 

I'm done grieving. It may creep up on me sometime, but you know what? Death is a fact of life. I'm sorry for my brother, but part of the reason we don't talk about death is because we all know it's inevitable. Sorry you lost a kid. You'll be lost from my life sooner or later, unless I leave your life first. I'm not prepared to lose so much of my life feeling sorry about loss!

My sister's death killed me. For a while. But she's gone. Done. Better off, if I'm honest. YAY! Go you! Life = death. Suck it up and move on. And that's what I'm doing.
Oh, don't worry. I know there will be times I'm still reduced to tears about my losses. But it's done. 

I'm done.
I'm taking back my year. 

This is me.
Call me selfish; I'm a survivor. (That's what all the funeral bulletins keep saying!!!!!)

So, forgive the language but F*** YOU death. I'm over it. Take me when it's time. I'm going to keep living until then.

05 June, 2020

More Foreboding - surprise!

I'm not saying this for sympathy.
I'm not saying this in ANY WAY relating to my opinion on current events.
I'm saying this because my head and heart are flooded and it's better out than in.

I keep waffling on whether to write or not write. Few people in any of my social platforms seem to be saying things not related to #BlackLivesMatter. Which they do. Black Lives DO Matter, and I've never understood the arguments against that. But this isn't that.

...I have seen one friend who regularly - weekly? maybe? - shares Covid statistics for her county.

So if something isn't Covid or racism related, it's not likely out there.

Oh... one high school friend is in limbo waiting for a liver transplant. There's that.

Everyone has their stuff and I am not in any way ignorant of that, but I have to put my words out into the ether because they are poisoning my life.

Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of the Tian-An-Men massacre. I was in Taiwan when that happened, and helped volunteers airlift Taiwanese news articles about it, to send information across the Taiwan Straits into China where there was a news blackout. The subject brings me to tears. The People's Republic of China still denies that it happened.

Yesterday was the annual peaceful protest / vigil in Hong Kong. PROC has taken over Hong Kong while the rest of the world is focused on Covid. They tried to stop it. It still happened. 

Violence and protest is everywhere.

Also, earlier this week was the birthday of my nephew who took his own life in September. (Did I mention that in an earlier post? Sorry if I'm repeating myself.) My brother's family is reliving his death daily.

Also! I had a message from my mom last night that my OTHER brother - not the father of the deceased nephew - has been called up into a riot area. He's National Guard now. We don't know where.

Oh, yeah, and my dad is 80, my mom turns 80 this year, and Dad's been in renal failure for a few years (he's stable). Recently their gym has reopened so they are going back to fitness classes. I mean, great for them, and I'm proud they are taking care of themselves - I honestly don't know how safe their state is or their town or their facilities. But through all this they are the primary guardians of my military brother's two young daughters. Dear God, Please keep them all safe!

It's a crap shoot guessing which of my family members will die next. I thought, after my sister's funeral just before the new Lunar Year, that I'd have a good year free from more death. I'm beginning to rethink that guess.

We all die. 
It doesn't truly matter. 
I couldn't go to the funeral anyway!
It just weighs on me.

02 June, 2020

Life is Too Much

I can't anymore. 
I can't feel more than I already feel.
It's too much.

I spent a lot of words trying to make sense of my nephew's suicide.
Then I spent more words than I had access to, processing my sister's sudden death.

Covid hit. I used up as many words as I had trying to get friends and family in the US to understand that the pandemic is, in fact, real. It has, in fact, deeply effected countries around the world. It is ...
Never mind. I gave up on that fight. Ya'll are on your own.

Next came all the racist horrors that are igniting conversation. YAY! Finally, someone started saying, "Yes, I have white privilege. No, I don't agree with these racist actions. What can I do?" And finally, people are answering. Finally, people are coming together and helping each other. I found words enough for a blog post. I spoke as much as I feel might help. Not much, but hopefully people know I disagree with the brutal murder of an un-armed, restrained black man. I can't say a lot.

Then I started seeing on every social media: "Watch for the ones who are silent." Implying that silence = complicity. In some cases, it does. In some cases, we are simply exhausted! I can't feel anymore! I can't say any more. I just can't! I'm not sleeping because people thousands of miles away - people I do not know - are facing systemic injustice.

Ostracize people for silence about racism? Screw you. How about TALK to people who are silent and find out WHY they are silent. Then... choose your actions.

Yesterday was the birthday of my nephew who killed himself last fall. I have personal shit going on that nationwide riots will not change. So shut up. Shut up about thinking your issue is the only issue.  

I say this about everyone who pushes their issue and brooks no argument that their issue may not be foremost in the minds of every single other person. There are a lot of issues. Going 100% at every single issue that one feels for will KILL a person!

There is also a lot of personal pain. The fact that a person cannot give 100% to your issue when they are fighting other things at the same time... Please look at my few tweets and my blog post, and understand I have not, and will not, perpetuate the problem. But I cannot spend any more energy fighting a vast problem when I'm grieving and now on the brink of a depression of my own.

Watch for the ones who are silent.

HELP those of us who are silent!!!!

P.S. In a few days, we'll start seeing a spike in Covid cases in the US. Yippee. Yay for jeopardizing those fighting one issue in the name of fighting another issue. Which do I choose? I want to feel for both! I want to speak about both!
I can't.

I can't care.  
I'm dying from the inside out.

Ask me any questions you want, but don't judge until you hear me.

30 May, 2020

Empty Words, Broken Heart

I have no words for what's happening in the US right now. But I want to say something.

What happened to George Floyd breaks my heart.
And all the other, similar events.
 
But my words seem useless. What can I do?
I feel powerless.

I feel like anything I say will sound empty. I can't sleep at night for the wheels turning in my head trying to work out how to say ANYthing that doesn't sound like White Privilege apologizing for itself.

How do things like this happen?
What world do we live in where anyone - any living human, law enforcement or not - finds it legitimate to kneel on an unarmed, restrained man until that man is dead? A 20 dollar bill? Really?

But I live on the far side of the planet. Continents away from the protests, from all of the hate crimes, the police brutality, the racism. 
 
Living in Asia I occasionally feel racism against me, but it's nothing by comparison. Nothing. A bias, a sneer, a degrading look, perhaps hurtful words on social media. Nothing like violence, partly because I live in a generally non-violent country, but partly because of white privilege.

Because living in China and Vietnam, although some people dislike all of us foreigners for living here while belonging to a different country, many of those people will still treat me better than they do my darker-skinned fellow expats. And I don't know what to do about it.

My heart hurts for the world. My heart hurts for America. My heart already was hurting for my own losses. 
My words may be useless, but they are all I have.

05 May, 2020

Language Frustrations

No more AtoZ, no more theme... although I made it through the whole alphabet, so I really need to go get my "survivor" badge soon.

Back to life, back to reality, as we were taught by Soul II Soul.


My language classes did not go away last month, but now I feel an urge to double down a bit. Due to Covid, my Vietnamese classes were switched to Skype. Somehow, not feeling a need to clean the bathrooms and make sure the kitchen is spotless before the teacher arrives makes studying easier. I can focus on the language, and not on the impression I make on my teacher. It's very freeing!

Vietnamese class was this morning, and Mandarin class - also Skype - will be tomorrow morning. {It's usually Mondays, but this weekend was the Labor Day holiday in China, and my teacher cautioned me that she was going out with friends Sunday night and might not be ready for class so early Monday morning. LOL. We understand each other. I told her to have a drink for me.}
 
It's chaos, I tell you! Chaos!

I started Mandarin while living in China. When we moved to Vietnam, I wanted to continue, because if I'm living anywhere in this part of the world, Chinese is not a bad language to know. After we got to Vietnam, we realized a majority of tourism here comes from China. (Korea is second.) Many businesses have their signs in Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean.

Even so, I don't practice my Mandarin regularly. Sometimes - before Covid - I might have heard some people speaking it in a store or restaurant, but I rarely felt compelled to chime in.

At first, I thought Vietnamese was coming more easily to me than Mandarin. They are both tonal languages, and share some grammatical similarities. Even some words are similar. Think of how many English words are recognizable when you learn them in another Latin-based language?

I now consider Vietnamese the harder of the two. Sure, reading Chinese is torture, because if you don't know "that specific" character, you have no idea what it sounds like or means. Vietnamese at least sort of looks familiar. But that's a fools game. It doesn't sound familiar, and I have realized I have no ear for it at all. Tones or not, Vietnamese has 11 vowels! And I cannot hear them all.

Fortunately, my teacher is very flexible. Lately we've been spending most of the lesson on conversation, and practicing speaking and hearing. We are moving very slowly through the book, but in the end, I think I will be better able to function with what I am learning. Little though it is.

Excuse me now. I have to study Vietnamese.
Or maybe I should review my Mandarin, since I have that class tomorrow.  
Some days, I miss complaining about my high school German classes.

01 May, 2020

Zilch #AtoZChallenge

Zilch. Zip. Nada. 
That's how much communication I get from my family. 
Well, that's how much I feel like I'm getting from them.

I understand everyone is in a weird place right now, so no hard feelings. But... a little bit of hard feelings. I'm 8,000 miles away from my family, and I try to reach out, but I don't want to push. The last I actually heard back from a sibling was a brother, 3 weeks ago, and it was a single text. 

I called my mom on the 22nd, but that was really to say "Happy Birthday" to my young niece, and the conversation centered on that. Mom is doing the e-schooling for my two nieces while their dad continues working, so that is a very busy house. Conversations are short, understandably.

I was already thinking, after my nephew's death in the fall, that we all seem to be grieving separately, carrying our burdens on our own, without sharing the weight of them among the group. Surely that can't be right. (I know, there is no "right" grief, but it feels like we should hold each other up if possible.) He took his own life, and suicide is hard to talk about, but that makes it feel more important to talk about. Maybe I'm weird.


Then, after my sister's death in January, there was a little more communication. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that her kids bore the brunt of the grief, so there was more of a feeling that we should help? 

After Covid came on the scene, at first I was alone over here in Asia and everyone else seemed to think it was nothing. Now that they are in the thick of it, there's less communication than ever before. Zilch.

It's a little lonely, if I'm honest. 
I vacillate between a "screw them" and a "love them" attitude. 
Overall, the "no man is an island" philosophy seems to be more and more false for me.

It would appear that I am ending this month's challenge on a low note. That's not really how I feel. Just today, we went out to check on the beach - not the popular one, although it is reportedly sparse out there - I needed the sand between my toes and the fresh salt breeze. Glorious! I really do love my life. It would be nice to share more about it with the folks back home. I guess that's my point.

And that's life. Highs and lows. We all have them. I hope your month ended well!

29 April, 2020

Yes! #AtoZChallenge

What have you been saying "Yes!" to during this lockdown, when we are denied so many things we are used to?

Personally, I find that I have said Yes to reading. In the past month and a half I have finished 4 books, made progress in a long one that I have going, and I'm due to finish a re-read of Hamlet before April is out. That's pretty quick for me, because I tend to put writing time before reading.

I have said Yes to naps. This is not wholly unusual, but I'm doing it with greater frequency these days. Maybe I'm not sleeping as well at night, but still - Naps!

I am saying Yes to language study. I'm learning both Vietnamese and Mandarin. I have been for a while, but I'm more in the mood to study. Not much more, but my attitude about it is better, anyway.

What about you? Any new or renewed Yesses in your new normal?