I thank you, readers, for sticking with me through this experiment. I must admit, part of the reason for this blog was my lack of friends and acquaintances here. I’m not warm or friendly or open, so making friends is predictably difficult.
Those of you who met me in high school may be surprised that I have this many opinions considering I was mostly silent in my youth. Those of you who met me in college are likely not surprised at all because my rage hit an all-time high in college. And those of you who met me in law school are likely uninterested altogether because of what happened. Those of you who met me during my internship at the Wetzel Law Firm are almost certainly not reading this.
But my gratitude remains. Thank you for coming back, thank you for reading, thank you for giving me an audience for whom I may share my life.
A life alone can be lonely. One must design in ways to mitigate the loneliness while remaining technically alone.
So I have a rewarding career, an occasional romantic partner, a good relationship with my parents and a substantial income. Do I need to continue to develop from here? I am stagnant, but I have to decide for how long I want to stagnate?
The easiest answer to this question is: when I get bored.
I have no desire to start a family. I don’t want to be a father. I don’t want to have anybody else depend on me. I don’t have a long-term plan. And I don’t need anyone to take care of me as I age.
I am, of course, at the mercy of my changing mind and this changing world.
Further: being a man of color in America was not good. Mon and Dad worked so hard to immigrate to America, the land of opportunity, the home of the free, land of the brave etc etc etc.
They never felt fully welcomed by the nation. I, born there, never felt fully welcomed by the nation. People never hesitated to use pejorative terms to describe my ethnicity, to use their fingers to manipulate their face to reflect these terms, and to sing about peeing in my coke.
I’M NOT CHINESE, YOU STUPID AMERICANS.
Americans, in my experience, didn’t even take the time to inform their hatred or fear. This was not an environment in which I felt safe, happy or valued. And why does anybody stay in unsafe, unhappy and unvalued situations? Because they’re scared to leave.
I wasn’t scared.
So, is Thailand any better, you’re likely wondering.
Thailand, and many developing nations across the world, while perhaps under-developed, corrupt, and lacking resources, are better.
We are better because 1. We don’t put on airs about being the best on earth, we merely participate in the ongoings of earth and feel happy to be alive, 2. Our prime minister is also sworn in as King, removing the cries from the citizenry to object when he behaves as such, and 3. The qualifications to be prime minister are the same as the qualifications for membership in the house of representatives.
I think #3 above is my favorite right now. We don’t elect prime ministers because their dad was prime minister or because they inherited fifteen million dollars at birth and bought the position, or because they had a really bomb peanut farm.
There are, of course, issues with the Thai government and I don’t mean to minimize them. But you don’t see Thailand declaring itself the “GREATEST NATION ON EARTH” quite as often.
If you need an example: do you remember how people reacted after 9/11? They bought flags. Flags for their cars, for their houses, for their bikes, for their clothing, etc. They didn’t soul-search and examine how their abject participation in democracy may have led us to be so hated globally. They demanded that we are still the best. And in doing so, proved that we were not.
When I left America, I assumed it would be shortlived. I am learning each day that it is not shortlived. I have no intention of returning to America.
America is the land of inappropriate self-inflation. From an individual level all the way up the proverbial flagpole. Individuals run around individuating, congratulating themselves on contributions to society, biting the hand that feeds and then demanding to be fed more. Further, the government rests on the notion that they are working for the “greatest country on earth” and end most speeches with blessings from some yet-undefined god.
And at the end of the day: they send bombs over other god-fearing nations because America must be the most something, all the time.
Look. Whichever god the country is praying to has certainly had it with your shit, America. You have spent centuries pretending to respect your God by misinterpreting a book that came from other humans pretending to respect their Gods by speaking as gods. Gods were present in America because you “Americans” got there, you went to work immediately to abolish them. You continue to do this work by systematically taking away the rights of the original Americans. And then you expect the world to respect you.
Your time as the self-proclaimed “leaders of the free world” are coming to an end and I surely do not want to be there when the powder keg explodes. I’m a furious pacifist. I have a lot to say, but I don’t pick up weapons. And when the revolution comes, I fear I will not be given an option.
America is the land of “your behavior is against my religion.”
This designation used to belong to Germany. I’m sure they’d like to offer you some advice and a firm danke for taking this over.
I warn you however, the World War 2 Underwelten Bunkers will exist in Berlin and Paris and America needs to take a look through these bunkers to assess whether or not you too want to live your nights and days huddled underground avoiding air strikes.
You too can learn this historical threat by reading some historical non-fiction and see what you’re heading towards. I don’t know how you possibly don’t see this anyway, unless you are choosing to ignore it. This, by the way, is what the Germans did in the thirties.
I don’t keep a television in my apartment, my life doesn’t have room for it. I read books – one per week – and I listen to music in my downtime in the city. I like to read historical non-fiction and I like to listen to jazz.
I read non-fiction because I enjoy the stories and experiences of real people in real places. It helps me put real people and real places in my life into perspective. It is often more compelling than fiction. I am usually less surprised by human nature while engrossed in a piece of historical non-fiction about just that.
I listen to jazz because of the four major musical elements of melody, harmony, tone and rhythm. Jazz is mostly improvised, melody is unpredictable, making an artist out of every musician creating or replicating jazz songs. I also find a sort of discipline in the appreciation of jazz music. It is easy to remember melody when it is accompanied by lyrics. The absence of lyrics encourage the listener to remember the melody as an entity to itself.
My understanding of art is that it must be a challenge – it must challenge something in the consumer. Jazz is a challenge. I am an appreciator of art.
From there I get pretty predictably, many jazz consumers will tell you the same thing: Thelonious Monk is the most remarkable improviser of all time and without him, the world would be a darker, bleaker, uglier, more predictable, less surprising place from which escape would be a welcome event.
As you may have noticed, reader, in my post about mom and dad – we don’t eat any meat. As you probably know from having read and learned about religions other than your own, vegetarianism is not mandated in my religion. It is in some practices of Buddhism and in some ranks.
I don’t eat it because it’s expensive, unethically sourced in almost every cultivation of it, and has consequences in health and fitness. I also don’t eat it because to me, it tastes terrible.
Mom cultivates soy beans in her garden. Soy beans, through a intricate process, because tofu. One cultivates the beans, soaks them over night, and blends them into a thick goo. Combine this with water, and boils on a slow simmer for ten minutes. Strains the soybean milk through cheesecloth. Heat the soybean milk, pour in coagulant (I use tamarind tea but, there are options of course), and stir until curdling. Pour the tofu into a mold through cheesecloth. Press. Wait.
This is an easy, albeit time-consuming process. Once you’ve done it every weekend for a few months, it’s zen-like.
There is literally no longer any reason for me to contribute to the disrespectful slaughter of animals solely for the means of human advancement. I am not sure humans need to continue to advance – not any more than these animals do. Eating their flesh to display my dominance when tofu and beans are readily available alternatives is a disgusting notion.
I practice Thai Buddhism. Alone at my home. It’s pretty private.
My mom has a beautiful garden at the country house growing the following: okra, sweet potatoes, arrowroot, luffa, peppers, long beans, cucumbers, soy beans, turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, mint, cilantro, basil, pomelo, dragonfruit, passionfruit, and one rose bush.
My dad is a great cook. He was a great cook in Washington but moving back to Thailand and using mom’s garden has made him somewhat remarkable. It’s a hobby, while I obviously think he should monetize it. He maintains that the moment he makes it a profession, he’ll lose interest.
I respect this, but I pay their bills. It’s a challenge to be both supportive and broke.
They have some friends in their area and one evening each week, they host a big dinner. It started with them and four neighbors – two elderly couples – and has snowballed into a dozen person event. First, mom takes guests through the garden to show off the crop. Then, dad takes them through the kitchen to show his preparation. Guests bring the wine.
And then they eat. Dad says that food tells a story and he has an obligation to ensure that story can be a part of the meal.
I never eat as well as when I am at home, which is why trying to match it in my city life is largely wasteful of means and time spent Out There.
Shannon is blonde, like hyper-blonde as she is Nordic in her heritage. She moved from Sweden to Thailand three weeks before I settled into my apartment. She works in Thailand’s sustainable energy sector, about which I know nothing. She understands nothing about personal injury law. We keep our professional lives and our private life entirely separate.
She’s annoyed that I haven’t brought her to the country house to meet my parents but one sleepover per week does not yet warrant meeting the family. Further, my parents have some serious reservations about my bringing home a white woman, a lesson I learned over and over growing up outside of Seattle.
Our relationship is fairly limited to daily texting and one sleepover per week. It’s enough for me. I’m waiting for her to realize or admit it’s not enough for her. I don’t know what I’ll do then.
It’s more of an expectation that a concern.
That said, Shannon has some positive attributes: she’s well-read, she’s easy to be around, she doesn’t leave messes behind her, she doesn’t ignore messes ahead of her, and she has a lovely singing voice.
We met at a coffee bar near The Commons. The morning after each sleepover now, we go there for strawberry waffles. I don’t like tradition, but I do like consistency. The difference is notable.
She thinks she’ll stay in Thailand forever, she has an entire social life here. She tells me that she spent years in Alabama cleaning carpets and was itching for something new and different. She goes to every wedding alone because I won’t go with her. I spend each of these evenings wondering why I didn’t go with her and hoping she’s not talking to other people.
It’s a challenge to be both aloof and clingy.