Category: Rants and Raves


I’ve been going back and forth on whether I should publish this post or not.  I wrote it several weeks ago when I was in a particularly shitty mood, and since then it has been drafted and redrafted into something beyond all recognition.  It isn’t like me to bare my soul for the whole world to see. In fact, it isn’t like me to bare my soul for anyone to see.  I’m almost 100% certain that publishing this will be a move I regret. 

Screw it. 

I accept the challenge and the risk.

What do we have to sacrifice for our dreams?

Some people say it’s nothing. Others that  it’s everything.  There are people out there that believe they can have it all, and there are people out there convinced its impossible to have it all. And there are some people out there that think we can’t have anything. Screw those guys. They don’t know how to get their happy on.

I want it all. Nothing less will do.

But living my dreams has not been without its sacrifices.  It’s an inherent part of wanting too much, I suppose.

And I want too much. I always do.

So let’s take a close look at the dangers and consequences of wanting it all.

Friendship: Friendships fade over time. We’ve all been there. People change, they grow apart, they lose touch.  There is no easier way to lose touch than moving away. It doesn’t matter that we live in an age of Facebook or Twitter. Human nature doesn’t change. Out of sight. Out of mind.  Isn’t that how the story goes?

“We’ll stay in touch over FB!” “I’ll miss you sooo much!” Not for long as it turns out.

Relationships: Romance.  Sex. The idea of finding a romantic attachment here in Asia is even more laughable than it was in Poland. And I did laugh about it there. I laughed so I wouldn’t cry. Because for this woman of the West, slumming it with a man who sees me as less than an equal is completely and utterly intolerable and unacceptable.  It was all just so impossible, annoying, and depressing in Poland, and in its own way, it’s worse in Asia. Why is it so hard to find a decent ex-pat man?  Many of the ones I meet are into local girls (some will flat-out tell you that the reason they’re out here is “yellow fever” which is indicative of such a despicable and shallow  character I just want to punch these men in the face), or, and this is a completely valid reason I understand, they are  living too transient of a lifestyle to consider a relationship.

There are two problems. One, is that the dating pool is just too small. And two, the ex-pat lifestyle, by its very nature is temporary, and for many, aimless.  I’ve met tons of men out here but tons of men I could date? That’s another story.

What about the locals, you ask? That answer deserves a blog post all of its own. I’ll write about it later when I’ve had time to collect my thoughts.

As for sex, well. It has been so long I’ve nearly forgotten what it is to mean something to a man. Or for one to mean anything to me.

And, yeah, thanks. I know I can walk into pretty much any bar tonight and get laid if that’s what I want. Obviously a one night stand isn’t what I’m looking for.

Career: A decent career.  How can I get me one of those abroad? It seems like it is impossible to get away from teaching English, which, frankly, is a profession I’m beginning to loathe. I don’t hate my students. I don’t even hate the life that much. It definitely has its advantages, especially when the money is right. However, I am just too damned smart to waste my brain like this.  Call it arrogance all you like, but its nothing less than the truth.  The amount of mental stimulation you get as an English teacher is next to none. Were it not for my daily crossword puzzles and this blog, I am convinced I would have sank into a vegetative state from which I could never recover.

Thankfully, all is not so bleak on this horizon. I am taking baby steps into exploring other options. If they don’t work out, I’ve realized nothing else will do but to return to school.  I can’t even explain how good this makes me feel. Finally! A light at the end of the tunnel. A direction. Something my life has been missing for much too long.

I was talking with a friend the other day and realized that more than being Polish, or being American, and definitely way more than being an English teacher, I identify the most with being an ex-pat. It’s a title I’m comfortable with and proud of.  Want to feel special? Be an ex-pat. Want to be cool? Be an ex-pat. Want to be sexy? Be an ex-pat. Want to be brave? Be an ex-pat. Want to have the most awesome life you can possibly imagine, with new, crazy, life-altering experiences every single day? Be an ex-pat!  The most boring crappy day of your life as an ex-pat will still be a hundred times better and more exciting than anything else your shitty home life can offer.

I love it! I can’t say anything else about it. The life of an ex-pat, it’s a hit of adrenaline more addictive than anything else I’ve tried. And I get to take it every single day.

So what should I do when the loneliness  and emptiness come roaring out of the darkest corners of my soul to smother me in a sad desperate melancholy from which I might never come back from? What should I do when I’m walking down the street and out of the blue my eyes flood with tears because suddenly I think: Damn. What the hell am I doing here? Is there even a point to any of this?

What should I do when I’ve been invited to the most awesome party life has to offer, but the party always ends with me alone?

At what point do my dreams become nothing more than a series of diminishing returns?

I’m 30 damn years old. And I’m flitting around from place to place, enjoying myself like few others will ever, in their wildest dreams, get a chance to. I am so fortunate. I am living the life.

It is nearly everything, but is it quite enough?

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These last couple of years have seen a lot of new experiences come my way. New countries to visit, new cultures to learn, new cities to explore.

It has been the journey of a lifetime and I’m thrilled that I gathered my courage to finally do it.  My biggest regret is that I didn’t do this straight out of college.  I wish I had the willpower and courage then to do what I’m doing now. I wish I had started telling myself “yes” instead of “no” a helluva lot earlier.

But I didn’t.

And so instead of being a globetrotter like so many expats that I have met, I’ve been to five countries in the last two years and lived in two.  And that sucks dammit!  I should have been to 20 countries by now! Or more!  What happened to a life full of travel?!

I get that you think I should stop whining. No doubt some of you are thinking I live a charmed life and I’m ungrateful and I don’t appreciate how awesome my life is. And that’s OK. Because that means you’re jealous and that makes me feel good about myself.

But get this: My blog…

…has been to no less than 57 countries in the past two months. 57! You can follow its journey with this little link here.

The little shit! It’s gone nearly everywhere I wanted to go. Its even gone to places I never wanted to go.

It has visited 57 countries on six continents. That’s right. SIX continents.  Secretly, a part of me feels happy that Antarctica has denied my blog visitation rights. But then another part of me feels sad.  The chances of my visiting Antarctica are vanishingly small, so maybe it would be nice for my blog to visit. But not just yet. I’m not sure I could handle it just yet.

So, yeah, it’s cool. My blog. Living the life I was meant to live. I’m sure it enjoyed roaming the jungles of Malaysia and Vietnam, and standing on the steps of the Parthenon in Greece. Sipping coffee at a café in France and thinking snotty thoughts.  Creeping around off the coast of Africa somewhere, no doubt getting involved with smuggling blood diamonds.  It is just the kind of thing my blog would do. Shady bastard.

I should be doing those things. Not my blog.

When it comes back, and smiles its little sheepish smile, I’m going to take its cheesy little garden gnome and smash it against a wall. Then I’m gonna punch it right in the face.  And it’s gonna feel good.

A Friend with Golden Hair

I don’t normally post this frequently, but this happened as I was walking home from work today and I had to get it down before I forgot it.

I was standing at the intersection, minding my own business only a few blocks from my place, listening to my iPod while I waited for the light to change. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a guy come up next to me on the right, squeezing himself between me and the tree I was standing next to. He had to stand on the roots of the tree to fit there.

He started saying something so I moved over a step assuming he was just trying to get to the curb. But no.  Of course not. He kept talking, so I (very politely) pulled out first one headphone then the other so I could hear him over the roar of traffic.

It took him a moment to scrap up his courage as he asked me first if I spoke English, then if I spoke Chinese. English I said, thinking maybe he wanted directions or something. Nope.

After one false start he explained that he wanted a friend with golden hair, like me. Since the light changed I went ahead and cut him off right there  by giving him the look and said “Yeah, I’m not interested, thanks”  before ditching him where he stood.

Why? Why does this always happen to me? I mean…what goes through people’s heads sometimes? They see a foreign woman on the street and suddenly today becomes their golden opportunity to act like a creepy freak?  Considering that  my house is basically a block away from the red light district I’m pretty sure he really was  eager to make a friend with golden hair. For the night. And even if he wasn’t…what the hell? Did he think I would jump all over this wonderful opportunity to give him my number? Should I have just up and grabbed a drink with him at the bar?

I can’t say that I haven’t had creepy encounters in the States or in Poland because I definitely have.  It just seems like it happens on a weekly basis here. I  really hate when people violate the first golden rule to leaving people alone which is having the poor sense of bothering someone with headphones on.

Ok. I’m done with my rant now and moving on. Thanks for reading.

Megaphones

Taipei is really sort of a loud city in comparison to Warsaw. No question the grumble of cars, buses and the loud roar of scooters adds up to a tremendous level of noise pollution that I could do without.

On top of that there are horns, whistles and alarms for parking garages, nonstop honking by the army of  taxis  prowling the city streets, more whistles from cops and parking garage employees directing traffic, garbage trucks blaring their classical music, random fireworks that seem to go off for no apparent reason, and people hawking their wares by use of mega phone advertising. They’re around in the night markets and various assorted other places. Sometimes people will ride around on bikes selling their food via megaphone, and they are sure to be found wherever anything is sold.  They can even be found in the grocery section of Carrefour thereby encouraging me to get in and out so quickly that half the time I leave without getting the very things I went to buy. After four months in Taipei I’m used to it. Part of living in a different society and culture is embracing all the little things that make it special.

It’s the political ad campaign that’s currently going on that I’d like to talk about.

I hate it. I simply just hate it.

It won’t be around forever (just one more week to go, whoo hoo!) but these last couple of months it has been getting increasingly annoying.

The megaphones are, apparently, a form of advertising for local politicians in the upcoming election.

Take Thursday night, for example, when a megaphone blared underneath my window at eleven p.m. Because I wasn’t trying to sleep or anything.

Or Saturday morning. Seven thirty a.m.  My alarm clock hadn’t even gone off yet. But what do you know? Turned out I didn’t need it. Because  some obnoxious asshole decided that this is the perfect time of day to blare their political agenda to the entire world. Simply awesome. Nothing like starting my day off in the right frame of mind.

Or how about this morning? Brand new today!  Now they’re setting off fire crackers every half block along with the megaphones. Whooo hooo guys! Let’s all go vote this weekend! In the past two hours that I’m sitting here on my laptop trying to enjoy my morning they have rolled by no less than 15 times, with firecrackers going off at least 7 of those times.

These guys usually truck around in small brightly painted trucks.

Like this one:

My new best friend.

Or this one:

Vote for MEEEEEE!

Or even this extra trendy one:

A Jeep!? Sold!

I love listening to firecrackers and watching the smoke clear (but not on a random Monday morning)….

That's not smog.

Up until now I would have sworn that the election campaigns in the US where the worst I have ever seen, with the incessant TV ads and radio commercials running negative smear campaigns every 1.5 minutes, the constant litter of fliers stuck in doors, on windshields and sometimes just thrown all over the ground, bumper stickers and banners…but I was wrong. This is worse. Much, much worse.

I Hate Mold!

Well, this week I learned a lesson about mold I never ever wanted to learn: it can grow anywhere. Including your clothes, your shoes, paper, on earrings and necklaces, and the list just goes on and on.

I’ve been battling it for the past week and I’ve never seen anything like it.

It all started a few weeks ago when the weather finally got cold. It got cold and I shut my windows and kept them shut. Makes sense right?

What I didn’t think about is where the moisture from my shower, laundry and cooking was supposed to go. I mean…it just goes into the  air and disperses right? Nope! My steam got sucked into my closet where it sat and festered and rotted until mold began to grow. All over everything.

I didn’t even realize what was happening at first. I saw it two weeks ago and thought it was just dust all over everything. I cleaned it up but i couldn’t forget about it. It was strange. Where would dust come from in my closet? Finally, the only explanation I could come up with was maybe there was an earthquake and it shook some dust loose.

Well two weeks later, I went into my closet again looking for some clothes I don’t often wear. I suppose I should explain that my closet is basically a large box separated into two parts.  One that I use, and usually leave the door open too, and then one where I store everything I don’t use on a regular basis, and which I usually leave  closed.  The parts are connected in the back by shelving that extends into both sections along the back wall.

Anyway, so I open up the closet and this “dust” is all over the place again. I pick up my going out shoes and take a closer look. They were furry. Yellow fur, gray fur and even some green fur.  I thought I would puke. I started digging around in my closet and discovered that everything, and I mean everything, was  covered to some extent or another with mold. My laptop bag and brand new  backpack had both sprouted mold. All my summer shoes. My books, my dresses, my shirts, pants. Unbelievable.

Then I went into the other side of the closet and noticed mold was slowly creeping in there too. It was growing on my carry on luggage, belts, scarves. I dug out the books at the back of the closet. They weren’t damp, but the wood paneling behind them was dripping with condensation. And that was how I pieced everything together. Apparently it’s not an uncommon event in Taipei, or anywhere else. I’ve never seen moldy clothes personally though and I’m just disgusted.

I thought about taking pictures but just no. No. I’m not gonna do it. I’m completely disgusted and horrified. Not to mention I’ve already thrown out quite a few items that I deemed unsalvageable and I’m laundering all the rest in the desperate hopes that it will help. As I write this I’m listening to all my shoes bang around in the washer. Hopefully they’ll pull through. Some of them are pseudo leather. Don’t know if they’ll survive but its worth a shot I guess. They can’t be worn the way they are right now anyway.

I guess its time to buy that heater and dehumidifier I’ve been avoiding  buying. It sucks to have to buy something I’ll only use for another month but I suppose the cost is less than having to replace everything I own.

I mean. God. My passport is moldy. What am I supposed to do with a moldy passport?

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