Monthly Archives: May 2012

The World One Year Ago

I thought anniversaries were over for me, but here are my one year ago words:

My life, in the last few weeks, has come to resemble a newspaper and not a story. Gone is the structure, the narrative, the aims or the arcs. Life, my life, is now a series of unconnected, meaningless events.

This blog won’t always be so bleak, but I have a little more gloom to gift you.

My wife has cut me out of her life without telling me.

After eight years she has cheated on me, and is now in the process of leaving me for good. Not for better but definitely worse.

If pain should be embraced and burned as fuel for our journey, then I’m at the beginning of a very long trip.

I knew something was rotten in the same way an animal is aware that it’s dying. A dog is incapable of equating it’s deteriating condition to the end of it’s life. It merely experiences every moment in isolation, each increasingly worse.

And I too have now experienced something dying, without being aware of it’s impending death. Life is full of experiences!

This is a blog with a purpose, because I no longer have one. In writing it, I hope I might find some humour, some insight or, at the very least, a little comfort.

This blog will not be bitter. I may be betrayed, hurt, embarrassed, depressed, angry, jealous and broken, but bitter I am not. Hearts aren’t to be hardened even if they are made to be broken.

This blog will be honest and avoid self-pity, though in the interests of honesty, into this blog some self-pity may slip.

This blog isn’t about revenge because I don’t want to dig two graves.

M has diligently cut away at the threads that connected us, and set herself free, floating away and leaving me among the debris of our former life. I am, as I write, empty and alone.

I’m at the end of something and the beginning of something else, and I’ve no idea about either. And so begins the trip…

I postpone death by living, by suffering, by error, by risking, by giving, by losing.

Anais Nin

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Death in the Valley of Love

Other than 4000 places in Japan, my favourite surreal place in the World is Dalat. It’s one of the few places in Asia where you can be lead around a field, on a horse, by a Vietnamese man dressed as a cowboy.

I went there with an American friend, L, who has lived in both the Ecuadorian rain forest and a mid-western trailer park. She’s an overwhelming force for fun, with a laugh that translates into any language as this: I just thought of something dirty.

To the Crazy House, a Gaudi-esque oddity, both tourist attraction and hotel, full of maze like corridors, stairways to nothing and bizarrely rendered animal statues.

Next the former residence of Vietnam’s last King, to sit in traditional Vietnamese gowns on a thrown.

Having posed most regally, we entered the Valley of Love. If we’d had a Seismographer specially rendered to measure kitsch, it probably would have orgasmed.

Hundreds of gaudy statues in acres of parkland, couple swings and cowboys, and everything imaginable twisted into the shape of a heart.

It’s a top destination for newlywed Vietnamese. L and I are not a couple, and so we diluted the sugary lovliness of it all by posing for pictures as corpses.

At dinner – shellfish on the street – we got through 4 bottles of Dalat red wine and, stumbling home, came across the bright shiny lights of a nightclub entrance. Like two dazzlingly bedraggled turtles, we headed straight for the sparkling lights…

At 8.45am I trudged downstairs to tell the motorbike guys we’d hired that we wouldn’t be ready at 8.30am after all. However, all would be well at 9.30am, and at 10.45am on the dot we set off for the countryside!

Motorbiking through spectacular scenery is an excellent cure for hangovers. We hiked down under a waterfall, in true Last of the Mohicans style, took a cable car ride, and, over a lunch of chicken, beef, wild boar, tofu, fish, vegetables and silk work larvae, regained memories of the previous evening. Which for L was mostly spent swinging around a pole.

To a silk factory we trekked, the endless drone, drone, drone of the machines deafening. How odd it must be to work in a dreary factory every. single. day, and have privileged Western tourists snoop all around you.

Next, a presumably little known fact: Vietnamese weasels love coffee beans.

They eat them, and when they excreate them, the coffee beans have become gorgeously delicious. How inventive and darkly humoured nature can be.

In pretentious and snooty and quite possibly, trendy parts of New York, a cup can set you back $200. We paid two.

Thick and chocolatey.

I can’t afford $200 coffee, and never will. But I don’t have to work in a humdrum and glum factory. All round, I have reasons to feel pleased.


“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have.”

Friedrich Koenig

Rock Wonders in the Sky

Halong Bay is a good place to be: Mysterious, vast and eerie. Two thousand limestone islets jutting out of lagoon blue water, echoing into the distance. Sailing through them, you expect at any moment to hear the roar of King Kong. The sense of being at the edge of the World surrounds you like the rocks.

I sailed on a Chinese style junk to take me around for two days. With a capacity of thirty I expected good company. Instead, only seven. Myself and three couples.

Yet more hard practice in the getting-used-to-being-single-stakes.

They were nice and I was polite, making sure not to ruin their romance by my presence too much. Sitting on the top of the junk, on a long empty deck alone was good, in any case. Silence and movement. It’s getting easier to be alone.

In the early hours we fished for squid, while drinking Hanoi Vodka. It’s a drink which, along with getting you blindingly drunk, (or at the very least, blinding you) almost certainly has a practical use as drain cleaner. Not for the feint of liver.

The squid teased us but we caught one, cheering the victory like it was Moby Dick himself. We talked, and smoked, and joked and drank, seven people outside of time and the World for a while. A little light in the middle of  the black Bay.

Afterwards we smoked in silence for a while. Each of us alone in our own thoughts.

And my thoughts were these: Right now, in this short silence, all of them are alone like me. And I’m together with them in being alone.

Halong Bay is a good place to be.

My daughter Deserved to Die

Abder-Qader Ali murdered his child and all it took were a few simple ingredients. First off, find yourself a place in the World where women are treated with less respect than dogs. This might be the 21st Century, but there are still loads of Countries to choose from!

“Sitting in the front garden of his well-kept home in the city’s Al-Fursi district, he remains a free man, despite having stamped on, suffocated and then stabbed his student daughter to death”.

Next, make sure your massively overdeveloped ego, completely disproportionate to your standing in the World, is re-inforced by the culture in which you live:

“Astonishingly, he said, police congratulated him on what he had done. ‘They are men and know what honour is,’ he said”.

Ok, those are the easy bits, but maybe you feel a bit icky about murdering your child? Uncertain about ending a life just because you’re embarrassed what other men will think of you? No problem! Just invent something that can’t be argued against to justify your barbarity:

“I know God is blessing me for what I did”.

Well done Ali! How on Earth would men be able to commit all these amazing atrocities if it wasn’t for a hideous notion of a God to build their confidence and give them some overblown, self-righteous balls!

And naturally having balls is very important when murdering your 16 year old daughter. You have to remember women have a role:

“That girl humiliated me in front of my family and friends. Speaking with a foreign soldier, she lost what is the most precious thing for any woman.”

Speaking with a foreign soldier! What a total slut! Didn’t she know the most precious thing for any woman is not to do anything that might upset a man’s fragile self-image. Especially in front of other men. Poor, poor Ali. Is it really too much to ask that women, before any act no matter how small,always think this: How will my actions effect the men around me?

But thank goodness men have their role too! They get to be brave and manly and strong.

“‘My sons are by my side, and they were men enough to help me finish the life of someone who just brought shame to ours.”

Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know there are guys “men enough” to carry their narrow-minded, and neanderthal fear of women to the point of vicious, barbaric murder?

Oh, and if you care, Rand Abdel-Qader spoke to the soldier because she studied English and was volunteering, helping displaced families. Her body was tossed into a makeshift grave and spat on afterwards. But, why would you care? She was only a woman.

 Original story found here. Rest in Peace Rand Abdel-Qader.

Olivia A. Cole

Author. Blogger. Bigmouth.

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