Goodbye, Roaring Twenties. Hello, Dirty Thirties. 

Monday, June 14, 2004

...And less than 5 hours to finish two grant applications: one for the Wobbly Tarantula (a non-profit organization that shows off children's Vancouver Island Marmot-related artwork) and one for a grant for the 'zine workshop Caelan and I are putting together. It's also less than 5 hours writing the bylaws for the Wobbly Tarantula. Plus, I have less than 24 hours to cram for my exam tomorrow night.

So what am I doing blogging when I am so busy?

I am warming up for the grant-writing race and for the Thirties.

The Twenties are nearly over. It was an okay decade, better than the teens, with their belligerence and general untidiness.

The Twenties had a few highlights, mostly contained within old copies of passports. My latest passport, covering 1999-2003, boasts at least two stamps on every page. A few in exotic scripts that fall outside of the Europe-Asia sphere. I circumnavigated the globe twice in the last five years. My sister pooh-poohs my claim by pointing out that it was only the Northern Hemisphere that I went around.

Looking forward, I hope to make the passport that covers 30-years-old to 35-years-old with at least five passport stamps. On my list is another month-long trip to Bologna; a month-long stay in Berlin; a study soujourn in Addis Ababa (Amharic and shoulder dancing); longer stays in each of the Scandinavian countries; Poland; the Czech Republic perhaps (I am not completely sold on the virtues of Prague); more of Hungary; another visit to Taiwan; Japan - Gyoda again, Tokyo again, Kyoto again, Iriomote for the first time and my lovely Miyako Island again; a Spanish class in Oaxaca; Romania obviously; another trip to Tunisia to study Arabic once this Bush madness dies down; China; Hong Kong; the Philippines...almost everything on my list is in fact revisits to places I have already seen. I suppose I should add India, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Nigeria. No place in South America calls. I just hope that I'll see all these places again, once more this lifetime for Ethiopia and many times more for Taiwan, Japan, Romania and Italy. I also hope that I will one day go to some places I can't imagine right now. How dull if I confined myself only to this list. Maybe I'll love Mozambique?

I did get two degrees during the past ten years. I studied at two universities and one college in three countries.

I still speak only one language fluently - by fluently I mean that I can recite nursery rhymes and write passable poetry in English. I don't know any nursery rhymes in Romanian or Mandarin; this is easily remedied but I am quite aware that I will never be able to write more than limericks in either of these two languages.

It's sad to think that I'll never be fluent in Romanian (I was born in Romania after all) or in Mandarin. Sometimes I wonder if I will lose my Romanian before my Mandarin or vice versa. I've spent more of my life speaking thorough Mandarin than thorough Romanian. It's easier to throw in an Anglicism in Romanian so my vocabulary isn't pure.

My conversational Japanese is decent. I recently surprised myself by eavesdropping a Japanese conversation. I could probably raise it a few more notches even while in an English-only environment. That leaves me with fourteen other languages to master between now and my death, which, if we go by averages, will take place in another 45 years.

Career-wise, I suppose if I were to emphatically declare myself a traveller, I have been extremely successful. That I managed to stay alive in obscure places for months at a time with less money than some people had for their weeklong holidays makes me some sort of jetsetter superstar. I've worked a lot of bizarre jobs, from selling mushroom purses in Japan to writing speeches for Bill Gates to being a de facto "hostess" for Asian businessmen (albeit a "hostess" that was one part dominatrix to one part Dorothy). I haven't found a job I really like because I like variety. Most jobs insist on inserting the worker into a monotone box. I do hope that I can continue doing my job or one very nearly like it for longer than my current contract allows.

I am pretty well sure that I'll never be rich, but that doesn't bother me too much because then I would have to wear dreadful shoes. As long as I can travel, live in a house free of cockroaches, and have a bit of extra cash, I might be ok.

Four hours left of my Twenties and four hours to go until the Thirties.

It's time for a re-cap of the rules to live by:

1. I've said it before: avoid cat men. Any man who names the cat as his favourite animal or owns one of these creatures is bad news.

2. Avoid philosophy men. This means men who majored in philosophy or even just men who read philosophy books. If he owns a cat, vacate the premises.

3. You can't please everyone.

4. Nor is one obligated to like everyone

5. Appearances can be deceiving.

6. But if you have a nagging feeling about someone, you are usually right. Intuition is always right.

7. If a guy really likes a gal, he will call sooner than later. Anyone who waits a few days to call obviously doesn't like the gal; he just likes the idea of a gal.

8. Unlike what the Cosmo magazines and their ilk say, if some fellow really likes a gal he won't care if she brings up a taboo date subject like roadkill.

9. The best places to meet people are still at parties and through work or school. Anything arranged will work as often as elephants mutate into wolves.

10. I haven't completely made up my mind on this one, but for the last year I've been thinking that all drugs should be legalized, taxed, and the taxes should go towards helping people kick their habits.

11. The purpose of life is to be happy and not to trample on anyone else's happiness in the process. Thus, cheating, malicious gossip, extortion, pedophilia, murder, etc. are not conducive to happiness because to partake in these activities would be destroying someone else's happiness.

13. Almost everything is good in moderation.

14. The One is a misnomer. We don't actually have only one soulmate, but about 20-30. The trick is finding any one of these. Soulmates might live in your town and in a Mongolian yurt. The other trick is being from her or his culture so you could speak the same language and be at least somewhat compatible on a cultural scale.

15. One best friend can be found in each city around the world; I estimate that one could also find a best friend in one out of every five towns; and there is a best friend lurking in one of any five thousand villages. In any group of 50,000 individuals I theoretically have a twin with whom I can immediately start making obscure fart jokes and they would get it.

16. Without perseverance talent is a barren bed.

17. A smile takes barely a second.

18. Any man who treats a waiter with needless disrespect is a no-good scoundrel.

19. Separation makes the heart grow fonder if it doesn't exceed a weekend.

20. A cure for all sorrows is conversation. Heck, in most situations better a chattering squirrel than a mute abalone. Look at that poodle girl in Silence of the Lambs.

21. All sunshine makes a desert.

22. A knife doesn't recognize its owner.

23. Most importantly, you cannot giftwrap a fire.

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