An Audience of One Too Many

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right back at chaThe Courteous Intro

Happy New Year! Wow, it’s 2016 – time for fresh starts and new beginnings. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! 2016! TWO THOUSAND SIXTEEN!

The Acknowledgement of the Obvious

So, I haven’t posted anything on here since November 3, 2014. Yeah, that’s a long time. In fact, it’s a year and three months ago. That’s not last week. That’s awhile ago.

The Sad Ending to 2014 and How It Changed My Life

Well, here’s the thing: 2014 turned out to be, perhaps, the worst year of my life. Nothing too drastic happened, but still, it wasn’t good. I’m still alive and relatively healthy and there are no major injuries to report. I still live in China. I am not in prison there (although sometimes it feels like I am). I have not killed anybody and I am not on the run. I have not been kidnapped by ISIS and I have not perished on a Malaysian plane.

So in that respect, things are good. But 2014 wasn’t so good. Let’s talk about it. First, my grandfather died. That was depressing, but it wasn’t that depressing, because he was really old and everyone could see it coming. I mean, I’m not sure if something qualifies as being tragic if you can easily predict it. Still, it put a bit of a melancholy spin on things. He was a good guy and it’s always sad when someone like that passes.

Secondly, my mother got cancer. That really hit home. I never wrote much about my family, but we are not close at all and I haven’t seen my parents since 2009. It’s one thing when the mother you see all the time gets sick, and I’m sure the pain and confusion that stems from that is enormous. But when your estranged mother who you haven’t even spoken to in ages gets really sick, well, it’s pretty heavy. You start to wonder if you’ll ever see or speak to her again. Like, if she’s going to die without saying goodbye because, you know, that’s what she wants. It’s tough. And even if your mother is essentially a stranger to you, thinking that a day could come when she’s not on this earth…it’s a tough pill to swallow. All that’s to say, when I found out my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, my life kind of ground to a halt.

But wait! Things got worse! My girlfriend of over two years – the lovely Korean girl I wrote about so very often on this blog – broke up with me. Although it may sound as though I’m a petty person who lacks perspective (which is likely true), the end of our relationship was by far the most devastating of all. I really, truly believed beyond a shadow of doubt that I was going to marry this person and spend the rest of my life with her. That was the vision I had of the future. And then that all got shut off, like a sitcom that gets cancelled after the first season because of bad ratings.

It’s weird. You have this idea of what things will look like, and then the other person comes along and tells you that your idea is all wrong. It’s almost they she said, “Hey, you know all that stuff you think about? About the home together and the family and everything? Well, you need to stop thinking that. I don’t know what you’re going to think now, but think about something else. Think about, I don’t know, basketball. Put more thought into your hairstyle. Just stop thinking about us. Got it?”

So What the Hell, Man? You Were in Pain – You Should’ve Written!

After all this stuff happened, I realized how odd a forum a blog is. I mean, I enjoy writing about myself on this blog, obviously, and I’ve rarely held back from being open and honest. But suddenly after the break up, I just didn’t want to ever write anything on here again. I felt like the break up wasn’t only an end of the relationship – it was an end to Topiclessbar as well.

I looked over the last year or two of this blog. It really became sort of a love letter to her. So many of the posts are about her or at least feature her. It seemed wrong. To suddenly start writing about dates and being single and trying to find someone new. All wrong. Especially since I knew she’d be there, reading it. I had strangely gotten an audience of one too many, and I imagined in anguish my new ex reading everything and feeling hurt by it. True, she had ended our relationship, but there were still a lot of deep emotions involved. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her. It’s still the last thing I want to do.

I told myself it was more important to not hurt her than it was to keep on writing a blog. And so I stopped.

But You Didn’t Stop! You’re a Liar!

Yeah, yeah, we’ll get to that.

Please Wrap This Up, Buddy, It’s Going on a Bit Long

Okay. Updates. My mother had a mastectomy and, after a couple other operations, I’m thankful to say that she is currently cancer free. We still have not seen each other, but we communicate via email regularly. It’s not great but at least we’re talking again.

I couldn’t make it a year without writing anything, so I started up a new blog and have been occasionally posting on there. It’s called “Parking Space 37,” and absolutely nobody reads it. I’m not kidding – it literally gets 0 hits a day. Which is actually kind of good and what I needed. It’s somewhat freeing to just write and know that there’s no audience whatsoever to judge you. Here’s a link to it, in case anyone wants to start judging:

Parking Space 37

I’m quite a bit better now, recovered from the evil 2014. My ex is doing okay, I think, and we talk from time to time. I miss her a lot still but things don’t hurt as bad as they did. At first it’s all regret and you sit around wondering what you could’ve done differently that might have made everything turn out better. Then as the months go on, that regret starts to change into acceptance. Not all the time – there are still spells of sadness and wishes that I could’ve fixed things – but when those down times happen, the acceptance eventually comes back in and things feel okay again. You start to realize it will probably always be like this. The regret will never really go away, and you’ll have to live with that in your heart forever. It becomes a part of you, and you try not to be bitter about it.

I have a new girlfriend and life is happy. Going forward, with the new year upon us, I plan to write here sometimes and sometimes write on Parking Space 37. I don’t really know what I’m doing. I want to put a book out and do so much more. It’s going to be a good year, I think, or at least an interesting one.

So there it is. My heart on a platter. A little bruised, but still pumping.

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One Night in Russia with a Bunch of Damn Crazy People

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blog executive loungeI was only supposed to be in Moscow for three hours. This was my connecting flight – from Seoul to Moscow, from Moscow to London. I wasted time eating candy bars and trying to fix my hair in the bathroom mirror, unaware that I would end up getting stuck in the Moscow airport forever, seemingly living there like Edward Snowden.

A mere twenty minutes before my flight, I got into the queue, looking at my watch and wondering why we’d missed the scheduled boarding time so badly. There was a short American girl in front of me with long brown hair. “I heard somebody say that the flight’s been canceled,” she said, shaking her head. “God I hope not.”

I agreed, as I’m sure everyone else would have too if they heard her. I highly doubted there would be anyone who’d say, “Oh, I wouldn’t mind it. Today, tomorrow, next Wednesday, whenever. I’m in no rush. Not like London’s going anywhere!”

Some more time passed and then we were all led away from the flight deck and into a large empty waiting area. We were told that there was a problem at Heathrow and all flights had been canceled. So that was that. We would be spending one night in Russia, in a hotel next to the airport. There was a process though that would take some time, because they had to give us special visas or something to that effect, make sure we weren’t secret agents sent in from the West to find and rescue Pussy Riot.

“This is ridiculous!” the girl with brown hair shouted. “How long are we going to be stuck in this waiting room?”

Hours, it turned out. The Russians collected our passports and disappeared with them. We were told that we had to stay in the waiting area and, as the name of the area implied, wait. Time ticked away and little by little everyone started losing their minds, yelling at the poor blonde lady working at the desk or voicing their displeasure into the empty air.

“This is incompetence!” some dude hollered. “Either get me to the hotel or let me out of this waiting room!”

“Where is my passport?” a lady complained. “Where did he go with it? I am so unhappy right now! I want my passport back!”

Tension filled the room like the smell of rotting vegetables constantly fills my apartment. People’s moods got worse and worse, their faces drenched with sweat and hatred. It was like being stuck in the control room of the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis, only not with Kennedy, but with a bunch of lunatics who didn’t know what the heck to do except complain about the Russians.

“This is the worst airport I’ve ever experienced!” someone announced. “I’m never coming here again!”

Well, why would you? Suddenly a voice came over the loud speaker, originating from a new airport worker, a tall man standing behind the counter. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “we apologize for the inconvenience. As a token of our apology, we will be offering free passes for the Executive Business Lounge to our passengers bound for Heathrow. Please come up to the desk and claim your passes.”

In the blink of an eye, the rage evaporated. People rushed to the counter to get their passes to the Executive Business Lounge located inside the airport terminal with the sort of enthusiasm I would have had if they were offering free shots of vodka. Furious frowns disappeared. Shouts of hatred ceased. The Executive Lounge had turned this angry mob into a bunch of bizarrely happy and content individuals. The waiting area, in an instant, had become Whoville on Christmas.

"Fabu Foray! Dabu Doray! Business Lounge blah blah blah blah!"

“Fabu Foray! Dabu Doray! Business Lounge blah blah blah blah!”

“This is great!”

“I’ve never been in the Business Lounge!”

I stood there and stared. What the hell was wrong with these people? Is that all it took, some passes to the airport business lounge, to appease them? Five minutes ago they were ready to loot the place and hang the blonde desk woman from the rafters, and now they had huge smiles on their faces, as if they were going to break into song and dance. For some reason I pictured them singing “It’s Raining Men” of all songs. Hallelujah. The passports came back and we were given a choice of going to the hotel or spending the night in the business lounge. I went for the hotel while others filed out, dancing their way to the lounge.

The next morning I returned to the airport and saw the girl with the brown hair.

“Did you go to the hotel?” I asked.

“No, business lounge.”

“How was it?”

Her hair was all messy and there were bags under her eyes. “It wasn’t anything special.”

We boarded the plane and headed off to London. I hoped that the stewardesses had some upgrade passes to First Class, just in case somebody tried to hijack the plane and had to be persuaded not to.

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