Trips Alone

Being an avid observer, of the surrounding environments, the life of a people-watcher, translated…

Because of work, I’d needed to have roundtrip travels from Hualien to Taipei and Taipei, to Hualien, in order to save up the fares, I’d often taken the “transferring commutes”, taking the double decker busses for some way, then the trains. This waiting and transferring, transferring and waiting, sometimes, I’d felt tension, and I’d, gazed out the windows, and suddenly, felt very relaxed, like it is, a sort of a miniature “trips alone” out of my ordinary life.

like this???  Photo from online…

In the process of my commute, I’d often initiate my “small theatre” mode, guessing at which seat I would be, given, would it be window seat, or aisle seat, would I get to see the sea? Or that I’d, start to observe the passengers all around me, from their ages, to what they’re wearing, to what games they’re, playing on their cell phone, the images from their FB homepage (am I being, too observant?), their LINE conversation (am I, breach someone else’s privacy?), listening in on the conversations (can someone call the police on me for that?)………all of these, are the points of origin of my imagination, I wanted to know, who the person who was, sitting closest to me was?

For a while, I’d even gotten so nutty, that I’d had to get the seat on the first row on the busses, that way, I got to, observe the driver at a close distance, and, his name would be, right up overhead, in front of me! In the age of Google, you will leave behind, an electronic footprint if you log online, and other than just imagining people’s lives, I get to, cross-check the facts, and, I’d often, lost control, in the one-hour ride, to the point that as I got off, and thanked the driver, I’d, actually became, genuine.

查看來源圖片like this???  Not my photo…

And so, this, is being a people watcher, and this person enjoys it, because, there are, NOT many other alternative “forms of entertainment”, so, he’d found fun, in observing the world around him, and, this trip alone became, more interesting, instead of just, watching that clock in the stations, wondering, when the busses or the trains will finally come and take you away!


The Smiley Curve

A lesson her middle school home ec instructor taught her, that’s not a part of the curriculum, which she’d found useful, and grateful over, in her elderly years, translated…

As winter started last year, I was overcome, with a sudden illness, hospitalized twice, and after the trials of the surgeries for a few months afterwards, finally, I’d, gotten better now. Thanks to the Goddess of Mercy, the doctors, the nurses, as well as, my families.

查看來源圖片training to smile…photo from online…

Recalling how I was, playing with my grandchild as I usually would, then suddenly, I’d felt my stomach turned, vomited then had diarrhea, and, as my loved ones rushed me to the E.R., they told me that it was a gall bladder stone that blocked up the ducts, causing the inflammatory response. This shock had, made me come face to face, with the uncertainties of life for the very first time in my life.

As I was bedridden, I saw my own reflection in the mirror, my cheeks slid in, that look of worry crawled all over my face, plus the effects of gravity, deepened those lines that the years left on me. I’d felt, that I looked, old, and, I’d, curled up the corners of my lips, started, smiling in the mirror; suddenly, my face looked, up, this fifteen-degree angle rise, made my eyes and brows looked happier too.

Then, I’d, recalled my home ec instructor from middle school, she’d always worn a grin on her face, she was, loved by all her students. Once she’d taught us to make a traditional Chinese snack, and, other than teaching us the techniques, she always wanted to instill that positivity in our lives. The students were all very motivated, and, as the dough floated in the fryer, with the fire, slowly, turned golden, then, pop, so aromatic. She’d told us, “Does it not look like a smiley face?”, we were shy and students, we’d circled around the pot, and, sucked in our saliva, smiled and nodded toward her.

or, like this, perhaps???  Not my photo…smiling into a mirror 的圖片結果

The attractiveness of smiles is unimaginable, to this very day, I’d still remembered how my instructor showed her canine teeth, smiling so sweetly at us. This smile had, awakened me, that life is everchanging, happy, that’s one day, regret, that’s also, one day, why not, just grin, making ourselves feel at ease, and, it’s, equally, pleasing for the outside world to see us too. In my elderly years, I’d, hoped, to open my heart up, and, face my beautiful future, with this, “smiling curve”.

And so, this important lesson that your home ec teacher from middle school had taught you all, you’d, finally understood what it meant, in your elderly years, but, it’s still, NOT too late, because now, you’ll, have that optimism to face whatever comes your way, as you remember, how easy it is, to turn that frown upside down into a beautiful smile!

Trips Alone

How the love the two of you once knew had, slowly, dimmed out, translated…

You’d Found a Café in the Snow that’s Growing, Sat Down. You Saw, Out of the Corner of Your Eyes, a Woman in a Red Jacket, She Sat, Leisurely, Sipping on Her Coffee, Looking Confident, But Not Too Proud, Seems to Tell the Rest, that She Knew that the Man She was, Waiting for, is Hers, Although He’d, Not Yet Professed His Love to Her………

I’d gone to Berlin for a lecture in the spring, there’s, still that coldness in the air there. The first evening in Berlin, you were, working on the PowerPoint presentation for tomorrow, then, suddenly, shouts broke through the silence of the night, someone was, shouting out racial slurs, you’d tilted your head out the window, saw some stumbling figures. You’d wanted to turn back to R, tell him, “It’s no big deal, just some teenagers”. But you’d, forgotten, that you’re, on this trip, alone.

You’d turned on the radio, the DJ said something in German you couldn’t catch fast enough, then, the song started, quietly. But, in this night that’s, disturbed, music seemed to serve the purpose of repair, but, although the music had, grasp onto a nerve of yours, but, you’d, worked along, and, failed to pay enough attention to what he was singing, until the final few lines, the trumpet started, sounding off in the background, and the singer, “it’s all so quiet”, and, the trumpet’s tune rose with the notes climbing up higher, then, as the highest note that the trumpet played came to a halt, the singer, “in Berlin”, and ended the song. You’d, immediately, gone online to search for the song, and, listened to it more than twenty times. It’s all so quiet, It’s all so quiet, It’s all so quiet…in Berlin. This section of the lyric, sounded like, they were, made for you.

illustration from…圖/李孟翰

Although this was the second time you’re here, Berlin was still a strange place to you, last time, there weren’t that many Muslim vendors or Turkish restaurants, and, it was, impossible, for you, to NOT feel discriminated here. But, why did you, gain that sense of unprotected vulnerability for the silent nights in Berlin now?

In Ginsberg’s poem “Returning Back to Time Square, Dreams in Time Square”, nobody saw that invisible trumpeter, only that poet who’d, stumbled down the streets, after the world changed, chasing that lost dream, accidentally, found the trumpeter again. You’d heard that trumpeter’s sorrowful music playing—or perhaps, it was, your hallucination too?

Or maybe, because it was, spring back then?

The repeated once chorus had:

I’d get lost anywhere

As long as I’m found

I could be anyone

in any town

Yes, so long as we got found, who would be afraid, of getting lost? Naturally, we’d not needed to worry of the various roles we’d played, so long as we get to, return to that very first, original role, assigned to us.

You’d gone to Athens for a meeting, the sun had, shone down everywhere. After the meeting, I’d gone to Mykonos. The bright sunlight reflected into the alleyways that twisted and turned like the walls of a labyrinth, you’d wandered aimlessly, and was, drawn to a table with an empty chair in front of a café, and, you took that very first photo of an empty seat. It was, very rare, that in the afternoons, the seats were, still vacant, and, you looked upon those empty chairs, like they were, alive, and waiting, patiently, for a customer to come and sit. But, you’d had, another, delusion, that all the customers from before never, actually left, that there were, the ghosts of, customers past sitting in the seats.

like this???  not my photograph…

You’d recalled how you’d traveled to many islands with R from before, once, she’d complained that you’d only, taken her to the islands, and, you were, dumbfounded, every time you’d, planned out the trips thoroughly, you’d made sure, to include an island in the itinerary, and she didn’t like that, and that, was when it’d, dawned on you, that she’d, favored the city living lifestyle. And so, you’d, thought, had you not scheduled these trips to these, islands………then, you’d found, that your thoughts, never actually, got off the islands you’d, gone to—you’d, kept pondering how to make the amends, should you, try satisfying her more the next time? As you were, about to, leave those, empty chairs behind, you couldn’t help, but look at them again, felt, that you’d not, gotten everything that you need, to take with you.

Those windmills in the distant hills, from a certain angle on the island, you could, get a complete view of, but, you seemed, to have, never caught them turning. Until the last day when you’re about to leave, you’d, walked to the ferry, and, you seemed, to have seen, the windmill, turned. You’d instinctively turned, to tell R, but, that huge cruise ship docked, broke your illusions—at which time, there was, a large group of younger eastern girls getting off, you couldn’t help, but look at them, and, so long as the ladies were thin and tall, you’d, sought them out, as if, trying, to find something that’s, familiar and lost……until the tourists all got onboard the ship, and, you’d, carried that nostalgia of unwillingness, alighted too.

You went to Yangzhou to lecture, the autumn light reflected onto the lakes. After supper, you’d gone with a group of younger scholars, to continue the meet in the city, they’d found a pub, “For Youth”, with a live band. And, as everybody went in, they’d, received a red bandana, turned out, it was, a day of nostalgia at the pub, other than the pop music from Hong Kong and Taiwan, the young musicians also performed the tunes from long ago. And everybody, in their Red Army bandana all, sang along too; in the help of alcohol, the revolution, seemed to have, begun all over again, and no matter how many products were, produced by the outside world. As you all left, everybody looked, and, there’s, that feeling of, vacancy. After exiting For Youth, the streets became, vacant too, and, Michael Buble’s “Home” came from the distance, there’s, that feeling of surrealness. You’d told everybody to stop walking, and the song was at:

Another aeroplane

Another sunny place

I’m lucky, I know

But I wanna go home

I’ve got to go home

You shook your head, “Come on, too overly expressive.” But, actually, you were, trying, to mask up the feelings that were, awakened in you; you’d become, another flighter; kept boarding the next plane, arriving at the next sunny place. But, you’d always, traveled, alone.

all alone, without the company of someone he loves…photo from online…

You’d arrived at Lithuania in the winter, but, the chills of the winter already got there ahead of you. Before the meeting was over, you’d, gone to the capital of Latvia, Riga. Your friend told you from before, that this country, is very tiny, but had, amazing architectures, especially, when nobody else was there. And so, you’d, gone out in the snow early in the morn, and trekked the streets. The winter morning, you’d, walked across, and in-between, those ancient buildings, like you’d, entered, into a dream of solitude: all the tourists, gone, only those, shy ghosts, still, lingered on. As you walked, there came, a beautiful woman from the turn of the corner, you couldn’t tell if she was, Latvian or Russian, but, there’s, that hint of sorrow, from either the northern weather, or some other reasons. The moment she’d, passed you by, you’d found, that a button was missing from her shirt. You’d wanted to turn back and share this with R, but if this time, she’d called you “boring”, you would’ve, had a valid reason; because this reminded you of Rilke’s book, mentioning how the young maiden the man bumped into, and he’d found that a button was unbuttoned from the back of her shirt, and, guessed at how she must’ve, felt angered by something before she went out…………and, you’d, mentioned it to R: the time she’d, rushed out the door, and, you’d, chased after her, to button up that missed button on her back………

In the storm that grew, you’d, found a café to sit. The snow fell harder outside, and, you’d, worried about the woman you’d, just encountered, that she might freeze from the cold, then, you saw, another woman, in a red jacket, sipping on her coffee in the corner, looking self-confident, but without the ego, like telling those around her, she knew that the man she was waiting for was hers already, although he’d, not professed his love to her yet……at this very moment, a memory of winter came clear to you. R too, once wore her read coat and waited for you in a café. That day, you were running, seriously late, and, as you’d arrived, you’d, apologized profusely, but she’d, spoken aloud, “I’m not, waiting, for you!”

It was, Christmas Eve, you’d recalled, in the U.S. everybody was, spending the evening with someone who’s closest and mattered most, same for the international students. But R arrived Maryland, and, passed through that final Christmas Eve you’d had in the States, but why? She’d, corrected herself: that she was there, for something else, but, there wasn’t anything planned on Christmas Eve, so, she’d, come find you. But, you’d not done anything special, just strolled around South Seaport, and, carried on, in disconnected conversations. It was, really cold that evening, and, the two of you, started, breathing out white air, but, neither one of you was, in a hurry, to find a warm place to sit. Did you feel, that it wasn’t, needed, to have other people around? Or, simply because, you can’t, find a place to sit down? You can no longer, recall. But, the only thing you’d recalled was, as the two of you, leaned in against the railing, and, gazed toward the distant lighthouse, blinking, she’d suddenly inquired, “Do you like, traveling alone?”, without a second of hesitation, you’d, replied, “I used to, from before.”

And so, that, was your experience of love, and, the two of you had, shared so many memories, but, for some reasons, you two didn’t, work out, and, you’re left, with these, memories of the love you’d owned and lost, feeling, nostalgic…


Not Yet a Traveler

Comparing oneself, and one’s own friend on the trip they took together, and at the end, she’d, understood about herself a little bit more, translated…

I kept believing that I’m an expert traveler, and started in my college years, I’d gone all over the places, and, as I’d started working, I’d gone on trips alone, to the recently opened up nations, I was among, the earliest tourists to Angkor Wat, Burma, along with Java, Indonesia, and places as such. I’d paired up with my former classmate, Helen to travel together, and realized then, that I was, a tourist that took the “comforts from home” with me out of the country.

this, is how you’d, traveled…photo from online…查看來源圖片

We’d met up at the international airport early in the morning, and, the flight to New Delhi, India was, on time. I saw Helen, with a huge backpack, and a small bag in her hand, without anything else she’d packed. I’d thought, that she’d, forgotten her luggage back in the cab, but, what befell me, was the items she’d, packed, for our twelve days of journey abroad. Now, look at me, the same twelve days, I’d had an oversized luggage, with a backpack, and my laptop too.

As we were waiting for the flight, I’d, gone to change into a less heavy, but warming “airplane outfit”, and, as I’d found my seat on the flight, I’d set up my pillow, and put my slippers on; and, as the flight took off, there was no air currents or turbulences, I’d immediately, put that moisturizing mask on, swallowed my multi-vitamins, then, readied for bed. Eight hours later, the pilot announced that we are about to descend to our destination I’d immediately started my sunblock routines, pulled out an assortments of moisturizers, sunblock……as we’d gotten our luggage, I’d, immediately, pulled out an outfit for travel, readied, to put it on. Based off of the schedules of the tours we had, there were, varied accessories, and shoes that goes with each and every occasion; each night as the itinerary ended, and we’d returned back to the hotel, I’d, worked hard, to repair my own skin. And, for Helen who was on this trip beside me, she had on her leisure jumpsuit, and sneakers, and as she’d arrived back into the hotel, she’d only pulled out her toothbrush, her toothpaste, and her pajamas to change into. She had stuffed a jacket, two sets of clothes to change in and out of, without any of the items for beauty and reparation of skin that I’d had.

Compared to how I’d hurried to find the internet connections as we’d returned back to the hotel, to share my journey with my loved ones, to have NO time zone difference with Taipei, Helen practiced her de-tox from the internet, not checked her Facebook and LINE, she’d not even cared, if she was, completely, tanned, shut off her style of comfort living in Taipei, to get out of her own, time zone.

and this, was how your friend had, done it…photo from online…

Compared to my packed up suitcases with things I’d needed for my life back in Taipei, Helen only had a backpack with her, but, she was, more of a sojourner than I am, simplified everything she had, and, able to, take in more of what she’d, encountered on this trip. So, I was only someone, who’d, traveled, with my comfort zones intact, not yet considered, a traveler.

So, this, is what you’d found out about yourself, on that trip with someone, comparing how you and her differed in your styles of travel, it’d made you understood, that your friend was able to, travel more freely, without the baggage from back home, unlike you…


My Son’s Chasing His Dreams of Becoming a Professional Gamer

Despite how many obstructions there were, in the path that took him to see his own dreams come true, translated…

It’d been a year since my son’s last return home, and during this period of time, I’d met up with him several times, opened up my mind, and put down the prejudices I’d held of him in the past, and just, listened to him sharing his plans of competing in computer games. Seeing how he’d talked of how hard he’d worked, I’d felt that warmth from within me, and although he’d only seen the sprouts of his own labor, but, he’d kept going on strong, I’m more than certain that he will, achieve what he’d set out to.

I’d asked him when he’d started wanting to go in the directions of online gaming competitions? Turns out, the conflicts we’d engaged in when he turned fifteen, was when his dreams first started, sprouting. Back then, he’d, ignored his school work completely, and didn’t care if he was going to graduate or not, after school, he’d, hugged tightly, onto his laptop. I’d often received calls of concerns from his homeroom instructor, but my son in his teenage rebellion couldn’t hear a word I say, and we’d often, fought like crazy.

on the path, to become a professional gamer, photo from online…on the path to become a professional gamer 的圖片結果

Because of my divorce, my son lived with me in my parents’ house since he was three; my parents felt bad, and, started, loving their grandson too much, and I’d often wondered, if my parents were, spoiling him, so I’d often, acted as the disciplinarian. And so, we’d fought in the wars when he was a teen, and, as I was on the verge of breaking down, my son’s second eldest uncle from his father’s side took him to live in the countryside.

With that distance between us, we’d slowly, sorted, through our own emotions. And, I’d contemplated, that as we’d lived together under the same roof, I’d never, given him the time of day, to hear his dreams out. I’d not tried to understand him, just kept preventing him. He saw me with a frown all day, like a porcupine, he’d not, wanted to come home anymore. Everything in his behavior, was caused by my neglect of him, and I’d, felt awful and ashamed, for not being there for him emotionally.

After he was away from my field of vision, he’d received a ton of bad words about him in the countryside, but he’d persisted in his own dreams, and even as he’d had a job that everybody felt pleased about, to chase his dreams, he’d, quit, and, he’d become, the subject of everybody else’s gossips, and they’d called him, “up to no good”.

And now, my son loved sharing with us his work, and, although his grandparents still couldn’t quite understand what exactly is gaming competition, but, they’d felt their grandson shone of that confidence and light. And, this child, in the voices that spoke against his dreams, still walked out his own path, and I wish him the best.

to this…photo from online…competing in online games 的圖片結果

And so, despite ALL those voices that spoke against his dreams, this young man still pursued what made him happy endlessly, and that takes courage, because, not a lot of people can withstand the noises from outside, and most would normally just, give up on the dreams, and do something that’s, more accepted by the families, but NOT this particular young man, and because he had the courage to go after his dreams, he’s already, a success, no matter how he’d turned out.


The Ability to Face Our Selves

A lesson of life, learned, in the unlikeliest of all places, in an art class, translated…

With the growth of numbers in the singles population, being single seemed to be the it thing to be, but, having that ability to live on one’s own is, nothing easy at all.

On the day of our reunion, a former classmate learned that I was still single, and she’d inquired curiously, “Aren’t you lonely? Like me, I’m afraid of loneliness, so right after graduation, I’d married and started having children.” And that, was when I realized, that some people get married, because of the fears of loneliness.

the self, reflected in a mirror 的圖片結果like this???  Photo from online…

Surely, being single meant that we’d had to, face a lot of the things that happen in our lives all on our own. Recalling how one time in my art class, our instructor wanted us to do a portrait of our selves from the mirror, and, as a classmate started it, she’d, start to cry, later on, I’d inquired on what had happened to her in class? She’d told me, that it wasn’t until that day, did she realize, how little she knows about her self. I’d recalled, how as I’d looked into the mirrors, I was always, in a hurry too, and so, I’d started, admiring me in my mirrored reflection since.

And slowly, it’d become, easier, for me to, see myself in the mirror, and dealing with my self in real life. If you want to be single and elegant, then, start facing your selves bravely, like dealing with that shadow that you casted, as soon as you’d turned yourselves around, the shadows, vanish………

not my photograph still…

So, this woman, in catching that glimpse of her self realized just how little she really, actually knew about who she was, and, she’d started, discovering what she was all about, and that led to growth, as she slowly learned, to accept every part of her self, and loving herself the right way. And this is a slow and gradual process that we all need to go through in our lifetimes.


Just an Ordinary Person

Being different, and finally, slowly, coming into acceptance, of one’s own physical conditions, translated…

I was, diagnosed with vitiligo, and been in treatment for over three years up to date.

Actually, having this condition really doesn’t affect my overall health status, but, there would be, patches of white, irregular-shaped chunks that showed up on my skin. And, if the chunks were so place apparent, then, it’d caused me to become, the center of attention. And, the curiosities, interests shown toward my condition, even making fun of the way I appeared, had always, caught me, off guard each and every time.

My white spots were located around my ears and neck, and when I was quite young, I’d not, minded it at all, but as I got older, the area grew larger, and became more, and more, noticeable, plus, the friends, relatives, and those I knew would show concerns from time to time, along with the strangers’ looking at me weird, I’d started, feeling more and more self-abased, worried, that I’d, looked like a monster in other people’s eyes.

At first, I was, naïve to believe, that I’d only needed a year’s worth of treatments, to get rid of it completely, for once and for all, but, it’d been, over three years to date, but, the patches only, shrunk in size by a little bit. And as my stresses from day to day grew, and I’d needed to, head to the hospitals to get treated, my patience became, spent, by all of my negative moods, and I’d, wanted to give up the treatment procedures, but, I couldn’t, walk out into the world, with my white spots, and face everyone else in the world, and so, I can only, grit down my teeth, and continue on in treatment.

Sometimes, I’d wondered, did I do something awful, so God felt compelled, to brand me, with these, white markings on my body? In the nights, I’d, bowed my head down to God, vowed, that I will, change my ways, to NOT be as aloof as I’d always been to the outside world, prayed, that he could, stop torturing me. But, as I’d realized, that praying to God doesn’t do SQUAT, I’d started crying in the nights, and, blamed the heavens for giving me this misfortune in life, and, blamed the world for being, so unfriendly.

But, after all these years, I’d slowly, walked out of the gloom, because, I’m not the only one who’s, suffering, my family needed to take me to the hospitals for treatment, and, after their hard days of work, they’d needed to, keep the energies up, to take me to the hospital, and, seeing how there are, little to no improvements to my conditions, they’re, stressed out too. And, how can I, keep on, living in self-pity, and affecting their moods endlessly too? Isn’t this the time, that I should, flash my radiant smiles at them?

I’d rarely, disclosed my condition actively to others, and I’d often, hidden myself, mask myself up, hoping, that nobody sees that I’m, different. But, now I’d, bravely, decided, to write it all out, so more can see, hoping, that it helps bring about more understanding between people in the world, then, the next time, you all come face to face, with those who are, biologically, or psychologically different than you, then, you can, show them more tolerance, and respect too.

I, am not weird, just like you, I’m, an ordinary person too.

And so, this, is how long it’d taken, for this person, to see herself as is, because her physical conditions, she’d felt that she was, inferior to everybody else in the world, because of her conditions, she’d, felt troubles from before, because people who don’t know her kept inquiring, and it’d, caused her stress, but now, after seeing how much her family was, putting in, to take care of her, she’d, decided, to change her perceptions of her own condition, and, it’d, helped her, adapt better, because at least, she’s, slowly, coming to, accepting herself as is, and, that, is the MOST important thing of all, accepting yourselves, because if you don’t, how can you ask the rest of the world to, and this woman, had already, taken her very FIRST step toward becoming, a better version of herself!