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Old 12-08-2016, 06:58 PM   #1
SuperUberBob
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The SuperUberBlog

This blog will serve as a kind of therapy for myself. Both the quality and quantity of content will vary greatly from entry to entry. Updates will be sporadic as I do not want to feel compelled to write. If you like what I write for whatever reason and enjoy reading it, that's great. If you don't then that's fine too.

I'll start off with a couple of entries from my offline blog and go from there.
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Old 12-08-2016, 07:14 PM   #2
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Despite being born and raised in America up to the age of 24 (I'm 31 now), visiting America is like visiting a foreign country to me. There are little things about American culture that kind of throw me off since I've been away. Due to previous negative experiences in China, I look both ways on one-way streets and momentarily hesitate before crossing the street at a crosswalk despite knowing that I have the right of way. When dining in America, I order my full meal the first time I'm asked even if I don't know exactly what I want because asking for more time to order in Spain almost guarantees that you'll be waiting an additional 30 minutes just to see the waitress let alone get her attention.

I say to people that I go to America once a year but the truth is that I've been to three different countries that occupy the same exact land over the course of three years: America 2013, America 2014 and America 2015. Year after year, America changes in ways that people who live there simply don't notice the way I do. It must happen to them so slowly that it doesn't register as an actual change. But when I come back to see my family and friends, I see a year's worth of changes all at the same time. Most of the changes are little ones of no great significance when looked at in a vacuum. For example, there were fewer cash toll booths before going over a nearby bridge in 2015 than in 2014. Hardly a major change, but still something noticeable. It then makes me wonder how that change is reflected upon much larger pieces of infrastructure. How many cash lanes now exist in front of the Verrazano Bridge? Or even more interestingly, how much more does it cost this year to cross the Verrazano than last year despite the bridge still looking exactly the same as it did 20 years ago? How much will the toll have to increase before people start swimming across The Narrows instead of using the bridge?

Of course, other changes are more obvious. When I went back to America from China during the summer of 2013, the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy were still visible in some areas of New York City. The area was still off-limits due to the aftermath of the storm but I know somewhere in there, parts of my mother's house were strewn about the area.

In two weeks, I will be leaving Europe for America to see my family for the holidays and I am more curious than ever to find out what America 2016 will be like. I can see general representations of my country's changes through the news and the attitudes of American citizens expressed in both social and mainstream media. However, I will soon get a firsthand view on what has changed with my family's surroundings. I am both excited to see my family and nervous about seeing what has changed. Hopefully, the bridges still have cash lanes.
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Old 12-08-2016, 09:08 PM   #3
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

I like it already now and am curious about you.
In Russia you have also to be very careful in the streets despite having the right of a way.
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Old 12-09-2016, 10:29 AM   #4
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

I see it. It moves from room to room and from place to place spreading happiness wherever it goes. Its presence makes both people and animals go wild. Even the plants seem to grow faster at the mere sight of it. It represents everything I want now and ever will want for the rest of my life.

But for some reason, it avoids me constantly. It weaves around the room at breakneck speeds while leaving me in the corner to stew. Suddenly, it stops in front of me. It stands barely out of my reach. I try to step forward attempting to interact with it but something is holding me back. I check for chains but see nothing. I move my legs but my feet are bound. I attempt to take off my shoes to no avail. I swing away at what may or may not be there holding me back but cannot seem to destroy the illusory obstacles.

It is at this time I realize that it is not physical chains holding me back but rather the chains within my mind that prevent me from moving forward. As hard as I've tried, I cannot overcome the walls that exist within my brain. Time and time again, I attempt to ascend what appear to be limitless walls to reach my goal. Each time, I give out while making my escape. I continue to try but fail worse each time as my strength slowly fades away, leaving me impotent and incapable of conquering the obstacles that lay in my path.

One day, I had enough. Years of failure have built up like water against a dam just looking for the path of least resistance to break open the wall. Without warning, a slight crack appears and daylight shines through. Ecstatic at the slightest glimmer of hope, I am afforded I break through.

"I have been liberated!", I think to myself as the barriers are no longer an issue. I move forward with purpose, seeking that which once could not be sought. Within seconds, the light disappears and I'm left in darkness. I know not where to go because what I once saw is no more. Only darkness remains.

I wake up in a cold sweat. For a brief moment, I feel relief because I'm no longer in that world but am quickly overwhelmed with sadness knowing that even in my dreams I cannot achieve that which I aspire to do.
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Old 12-14-2016, 08:50 PM   #5
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

I sometimes wonder if life would be better if I didn't think and just acted exclusively on instinct.

There's almost certainly some appeal to living a life devoid of introspection and curiosity. I see stupid people all the time and they appear to be relatively happy with themselves. I'm unsure if it's the Dunning-Kruger effect at work or if they genuinely do live better, simpler lives by not thinking.

I would like to be dumb just for 24 hours to see what it's like. I'm not talking mentally retarded. That seems pretty ****ty. I'm talking stupidity like that scene in Clerks where some guy gets his hand stuck in a Pringles jar. That kind of stupid.

How sweet it appears to be. How sweet.
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Old 12-14-2016, 11:59 PM   #6
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Put in my 2 weeks last Friday. Leaving Spain (probably) for good in 8 days.

2016 was a horrible year both objectively and personally for too many reasons to count. If I live with my mom and go on the dole for all of 2017, it would be only slightly worse than 2016 for me.

Initially, I was morally and ethically conflicted with my decision to leave the school I teach at and breaking my rental contract midway through. Unlike most people who teach English here, my job was actually good. I got paid more than the norm at my position and had a really good schedule of classes. But I'd rather somebody who is happy living in Spain take the job than take my dissatisfaction with my current life into work everyday. I covered the latter conflict by finding a replacement (my only friend in Spain and current roommate who was having trouble finding a flat) to take over the monthly payments. Not sure how that will work legally, but I'm sure the landlord would prefer an immediate replacement than lose cash while getting a real estate agency to find a new buyer.

I will not miss Spain as a whole. I never really fit in with any social circle since I don't enjoy clubbing and partying like most Spanish people. Nerd culture is practically non-existent among fellow expats and despite being outwardly warm and friendly, Spaniards are very difficult for me to rely on and befriend. As a result, I don't have a whole lot of friends here and the only reason I didn't leave before the summer was that I didn't want to go back to America while still recovering from a broken collarbone + grade 3 separated shoulder. Had physical therapy paid for through workman's comp in Spain to take advantage of but once that was done, there was no reason for me to stay.

Nothing to gain, nothing to lose for me. From my point of view, if you're continually looking into the future, then you don't want to be in the present. But if I don't act on it, then you'll always be looking and never doing. It's time for another page in my life. Right now it's blank and I need to think of something to fill it with.

I am experiencing a wide range of emotions but I know that this is the right move. There's a whole lot of unpredictability going into 2017 and it is both exciting and horrifying. I'll use my time in New York to right myself and be an idiot tourist in order to kill time while waiting to get my passport renewed.
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Old 12-17-2016, 07:29 PM   #7
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

You ever listen to a song and think that it was written about you?

I mean I know that some young girls think that their favorite heartthrob is writing songs to them by keeping them vague enough to apply to just about any girl who listens. But I'm talking a song that is specific in its detail that yet applies to your life almost perfectly.

Right now, I'm listening to "The Unforgiven" by Metallica. It's about his troubled childhood. While my childhood wasn't as harsh as his, some of the lyrics are ones that I can relate to closely.

Quote:
They dedicate their lives
To running all of his
He tries to please them all
This bitter man he is
Throughout his life the same
He's battled constantly
This fight he cannot win
A tired man they see no longer cares
The old man then prepares
To die regretfully
That old man here is me
There's no question that I lost out a lot in life as a child. Part of it is certainly my fault. I could have done more to be my own man and push to do what I wanted to do. Epilepsy unfortunately prevented me from enjoying certain elements in life that I wanted to take part in as well. But there's no doubt that my parents attempted to fit me in a box I never wanted to fit in. I know they thought they were doing what they taught was right. After all, they were raised that way and they turned out okay. So it would clearly be good for me as well. I don't hold it against them because they did it out of love for me rather than a selfish desire to get me to conform and become the son they always wanted.

For a time, I bent myself in and forced myself to stay there for their approval. But it could only hold me for so long before I busted out. I could see my parents struggling to adjust their views in an attempt to maintain their love for me. I contemplated suicide during my teenage years and though I had planned it out on multiple times, but never worked up the courage to do it. They adjusted their views properly and that saved my life. I no longer felt as though I was a failure in their eyes for not being what they wanted me to be. They accepted me and I lived with that.

My dad dying suddenly was the turning point in my life (actually in my entire family's). He was the one who supported my desire to travel while my mother wanted me to stay home with her. She likely figured that I would come home and stay there after my dad's death. He wanted me to travel and now he wasn't there. She knew she had me in America.

But I think I responded differently from what she expected. My father's death occurred out of nowhere while I was in South Korea enjoying when Seoul had to offer. I had a teaching contract to finish and did so but then returned home to help my mother cope with his death. She lived in the countryside and needed a man to do man things that my father did.

(In hindsight, I actually regretted going back to finish my contract as dealing with the emotional toll of his death led to a dramatic drop in my teaching performance in which I basically stopped teaching and played games. I should have been with my family from that point on instead of going back and embarrassing myself.)

It was while I was home that I realized that I could not stay in America. My father stayed in America, worked for his family and squirreled away money to use for retirement. Then he keeled over and died out of nowhere, the result of anaphylaxis due to venom from many bee stings while mowing a lawn. What good was that money saved for him? Do I really want to live my life that way: always planning for the future while not thinking about the present?

I decided to retire early and take on the responsibilities my father took on afterwards. Do the stuff I want to do while young rather than being old, looking back on a youth spent slaving away 5 days on, 2 days off again and again before taking a lethal dose of Seconal and ending it all.

But I'm not sure if I want those responsibilities. I'm supposed to want them. I'm supposed to fit in by having a family, a full-time job and living on a cul-de-sac. I'd like to live such in a way that if I die young (my father and paternal grandfather both died before 60), I don't leave a wife and kids behind to fend for themselves. I cannot think of a worse fate for a family.
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Old 12-17-2016, 08:45 PM   #8
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Man I really ****ed up my grammar here. Dammit.
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Old 12-19-2016, 08:36 PM   #9
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

"When you're born in this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. And when you're born in America, you're given a front row seat. And some of us get to sit there with notebooks. And I'm a notebook kind of guy. "Oh, my God, did you see that? Did you see what he just did?..." And I watch the freak show, and I kept my notes, and I make up stuff about it, and I talk about the freaks. And the freaks are all humans, and they are all like me, and we are all the same. I'm not better, I'm not different, I'm just apart now. I'm separate, I'm over here, because I put myself out of the mix. I don't have a stake at the outcome. I'm not a cheerleader for a given outcome now."

-George Carlin

To be honest, I don't give that much of a **** that Donald Trump won. It has no direct impact on my life. No politician has ever thought about overseas American citizens when voting on a bill. No Presidential candidate has ever campaigned on a promise to make lives better for the American diaspora. We don't factor into any decision-making in any way. We are nothing more than an afterthought if we are a thought at all.

I care in the abstract. I care because I am a representative of the actions of my countrymen (and women) when I live outside of the country. Anytime somebody in America does something massively stupid, I am the one that has to answer for it like I'm the person that did it. Not my fault that millions of Americans are stupid. I mean I get the curiosity because America is so different when compared to the rest of the western world and there aren't a whole lot of American citizens in Europe. It's that one question that you have to ask while you have a chance to ask it. Normally, I don't mind briefly answering it and I'll have a respectful conversation related to the topic if I feel that something will come of it.

But sometimes there's an accusatory tone when they speak that's a bit off-putting. It's as though they have made up their mind on how much of an idiot you are in advance. So you're basically pissing up a rope with these people. Even if you agree with their political views (which I do most of the time given my leftist views), they'll take time out of their day to talk about how much your country ****ed up in the past and pin it on you. This attitude seems almost exclusive to people from Scandinavian countries. I suppose they have the moral high ground because they haven't invaded a continent of indigenous people for personal gain in the last 100 years or so. So, they can get away with it while people from other countries cannot due to their own sordid history.

Sigh.
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Old 12-22-2016, 10:02 AM   #10
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

I'm off to America tomorrow morning. Almost done packing.

Gotta be honest. I'm more nervous traveling in/out of my home country than any other country I've been to.
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Old 12-26-2016, 03:19 PM   #11
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Avoided getting harassed by airport security (yay for being white) on the way back to the states.

Kind of strange that they exercise a sense of humor though. I mean we can't crack jokes about them but they can about us. The last thing I want to deal with is humor at airport security. I'm tired, disoriented, and stressed out. I don't even notice their jokes until about 5 minutes after they're told. They don't even make sense to me. They just come off as annoying ****s more than anything else. I mean I know they didn't grow up wanting to check passports for a living and probably need humor to keep themselves from committing suicide out of boredom but I'm just not in the mood.

I can't make jokes because it seems to me that the rules for CBP checks change every single time. Last year, they took me in for secondary questioning but never explained why. I just answered the questions honestly (benign questions wondering where I went and what I was doing etc) and they let me go. I went in assuming that they would do exactly the same and was a bit obsessive about it but nothing happened. Perhaps it was a random check or something like that.

Thankfully, I'm mostly over the cough that has been causing me problems for the last week or so. Nice to be recovered from all that. Jet lag is a bit of a ***** when crossing 7 time zones, but aside from daytime fatigue, I'm pretty good after just a couple of days.

Probably gonna stay in America for a few weeks and then it's time for the Epic European Vacation!

Last edited by SuperUberBob; 12-26-2016 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 12-27-2016, 05:59 PM   #12
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Quote:
No politician has ever thought about overseas American citizens when voting on a bill.
Not entirely true. They cared enough to pass a law that says US citizens living elsewhere are required to pay income tax lol.
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Old 12-29-2016, 01:19 AM   #13
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

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Not entirely true. They cared enough to pass a law that says US citizens living elsewhere are required to pay income tax lol.
Yeah the US and Eritrea are the only two countries that tax people based on citizenship rather than where they live.

Anyway, not a whole lot of overseas citizens pay taxes to the US because they pay taxes in the country they live in and if that country has a tax treaty with the US, then there's no double taxation.
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Old 12-31-2016, 12:29 AM   #14
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Starting to feel the pressure to settle and have kids from my family.

It's more for their selfish desires than what I want. They don't want to keep telling their friends that they have a son with no desire to have kids and a minimal desire for a long-term relationship. I probably should just start answering questions like those by telling those who ask to go **** themselves.

They should know me by now. I don't really listen to anybody when all is said and done. If I did, I wouldn't have left America. I'd be working 40+ hours a week at a job I don't particularly like, forced into a marriage I didn't want with kids I didn't want if I did what my family wanted me to do.

Apparently, there's this lifestyle somebody brought up that's similar to this called MGTOW. I never heard of it myself but I researched and most of them appear to be MRAs who think a woman's sole goal in life is to **** over men by marrying them and getting half their stuff. Kind of sucks that my lifestyle is being associated with that because I don't hate women. I just hate the idea of being legally bound to somebody until I die. That's a long ****ing time to be with one person. Kids also seem to be unbearably difficult to raise and a waste of time if you aren't going to give it your all when bringing life into this world.

Such is the nature of one with wanderlust. It's a solitary life that doesn't lend to long-term friendships and relationships. It's a selfish life where I seek to fulfill my individual desires rather than make sacrifices for the sake of others. It is, ultimately, a life I enjoy.
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Old 01-23-2017, 06:08 PM   #15
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperUberBob View Post
I sometimes wonder if life would be better if I didn't think and just acted exclusively on instinct.

There's almost certainly some appeal to living a life devoid of introspection and curiosity. I see stupid people all the time and they appear to be relatively happy with themselves. I'm unsure if it's the Dunning-Kruger effect at work or if they genuinely do live better, simpler lives by not thinking.

I would like to be dumb just for 24 hours to see what it's like. I'm not talking mentally retarded. That seems pretty ****ty. I'm talking stupidity like that scene in Clerks where some guy gets his hand stuck in a Pringles jar. That kind of stupid.

How sweet it appears to be. How sweet.
presence.off mind.
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Old 01-23-2017, 06:13 PM   #16
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

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Originally Posted by SuperUberBob View Post
Starting to feel the pressure to settle and have kids from my family.

It's more for their selfish desires than what I want. They don't want to keep telling their friends that they have a son with no desire to have kids and a minimal desire for a long-term relationship. I probably should just start answering questions like those by telling those who ask to go **** themselves.

They should know me by now. I don't really listen to anybody when all is said and done. If I did, I wouldn't have left America. I'd be working 40+ hours a week at a job I don't particularly like, forced into a marriage I didn't want with kids I didn't want if I did what my family wanted me to do.

Apparently, there's this lifestyle somebody brought up that's similar to this called MGTOW. I never heard of it myself but I researched and most of them appear to be MRAs who think a woman's sole goal in life is to **** over men by marrying them and getting half their stuff. Kind of sucks that my lifestyle is being associated with that because I don't hate women. I just hate the idea of being legally bound to somebody until I die. That's a long ****ing time to be with one person. Kids also seem to be unbearably difficult to raise and a waste of time if you aren't going to give it your all when bringing life into this world.

Such is the nature of one with wanderlust. It's a solitary life that doesn't lend to long-term friendships and relationships. It's a selfish life where I seek to fulfill my individual desires rather than make sacrifices for the sake of others. It is, ultimately, a life I enjoy.
walk your path. trust your instinct.it's the mind that will try and fool you
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Old 01-23-2017, 08:03 PM   #17
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperUberBob View Post
I see it. It moves from room to room and from place to place spreading happiness wherever it goes. Its presence makes both people and animals go wild. Even the plants seem to grow faster at the mere sight of it. It represents everything I want now and ever will want for the rest of my life.

But for some reason, it avoids me constantly. It weaves around the room at breakneck speeds while leaving me in the corner to stew. Suddenly, it stops in front of me. It stands barely out of my reach. I try to step forward attempting to interact with it but something is holding me back. I check for chains but see nothing. I move my legs but my feet are bound. I attempt to take off my shoes to no avail. I swing away at what may or may not be there holding me back but cannot seem to destroy the illusory obstacles.

It is at this time I realize that it is not physical chains holding me back but rather the chains within my mind that prevent me from moving forward. As hard as I've tried, I cannot overcome the walls that exist within my brain. Time and time again, I attempt to ascend what appear to be limitless walls to reach my goal. Each time, I give out while making my escape. I continue to try but fail worse each time as my strength slowly fades away, leaving me impotent and incapable of conquering the obstacles that lay in my path.

One day, I had enough. Years of failure have built up like water against a dam just looking for the path of least resistance to break open the wall. Without warning, a slight crack appears and daylight shines through. Ecstatic at the slightest glimmer of hope, I am afforded I break through.

"I have been liberated!", I think to myself as the barriers are no longer an issue. I move forward with purpose, seeking that which once could not be sought. Within seconds, the light disappears and I'm left in darkness. I know not where to go because what I once saw is no more. Only darkness remains.

I wake up in a cold sweat. For a brief moment, I feel relief because I'm no longer in that world but am quickly overwhelmed with sadness knowing that even in my dreams I cannot achieve that which I aspire to do.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperUberBob View Post
Such is the nature of one with wanderlust. It's a solitary life that doesn't lend to long-term friendships and relationships. It's a selfish life where I seek to fulfill my individual desires rather than make sacrifices for the sake of others. It is, ultimately, a life I enjoy.
I don't know that I believe the bolded given the post quoted.
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Old 01-24-2017, 02:42 AM   #18
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

I'm not here to convince anybody of anything. You are free to believe what you want.

My writing represents my emotional state at the time that I am writing. Sometimes I feel sad (as in the first entry you quoted). Other times, I rethink my life and feel happy (as in the second). Writing it out allows me to sort myself out and put things in order. Hence why it's called writing therapy.

Since leaving Spain, my life has definitely shifted away from the depression that had been bubbling up in the past. Now that I'm on the move, things are always new and I am far more optimistic which is why I've been writing less frequently in my blog.

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Old 01-24-2017, 02:46 PM   #19
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Sorry, my post wasn't meant to be rude. I should have written a bit more. I just thought it was an interesting contrast. The writing style in the first post gives it quite a bit of gravitas, while the 2nd post is more... casual? So I'm thinking, is the first post more reflective of how he actually feels while the 2nd is a bit of self denial? Or is the first more dramatic than reality, and the 2nd post is more real?
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Old 01-25-2017, 04:17 PM   #20
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

The latter.
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Old 09-11-2017, 07:55 PM   #21
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Re: SuperUberBlog: Self-Awareness and Development Through Writing Therapy

Quite a lot has happened since I last posted here.

First off, I'm in a much better state mentally than when I started this. I spent the first half of 2017 travelling throughout Europe on some savings that I was able to accumulate. My mission was to see the remaining EU member states that I had yet to see. Unfortunately, I fell two short of my goal (still have Romania and Bulgaria left).

In June, I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland and volunteered at a youth hostel for the summer. In the meantime, I applied to postgrad programs in Scotland looking for a TESOL degree program that suited me. I stumbled across The University of Stirling and was promptly accepted. After I got accepted, the rest of the summer was spent sorting out my time that would be spent there.

When I wasn't doing that, I got to enjoy the 70th annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I'm a stand-up comedy fan so there was plenty to see. Saw Frankie Boyle, Tommy Tiernan, Glenn Wool, Daniel Sloss and Dylan Moran. Saw a couple of musicals and some improv comedy as well. It was a whole lot of fun.

Going back to school at 32 is a weird experience. It's like being a freshman all over again. I expected the classes to be smaller and less diverse since it's a postgrad program. On the contrary, the class was large and nearly everybody in my class is from East Asia. Didn't come across a single Scot. There are a few people from the continent and I came across one English person but that's it. I'm also not the oldest student in my grad program like I expected to be. One is in his upper 30s and another actually brought his wife + child from Japan to Scotland for the year.

I've picked up some new hobbies. First off, I began hitting the gym regularly in June and progressed quite well there. As I was spending my days cleaning youth hostels, I got plenty of exercise and lost a considerable amount of weight.

On top of that, I began taking martial arts classes (Krav Maga). I really love everything about it. I love the physical workout you get. I love the boost in confidence. I love the practical self-defense skills gained in KM. I love the psychological mind over body mentality you need to persevere through pain and injury. I love the idea of pushing my body to the limit and by doing so, accomplishing things that I never thought I could. The adrenaline rush you get when sparring and fighting is real. The rush is intense enough that you don't even feel any pain when you get punched or kicked. I can feel a rush just by writing about it. I wish I knew about the benefits as a teenager because if I did I would have started then.

If I'm not doing that, I started to do some yoga classes (check Yoga with Adriene on You Tube for free yoga videos) and have tried to get into meditation to control my anxiety. The former has gone well. The latter is something I need to work on.

Another positive was that I had a small go at dating while in Edinburgh. Nothing special. Just getting back into it after not dating for a long time. Got a hook-up out of a few I went out with but not much more. My social anxiety has definitely declined. Living in a 8 bed hostel room for 3 months will do that to you. It's still obviously there but it's less of an issue.

Everything is on its way up. Less angst to be written about.
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Old 09-14-2017, 11:44 AM   #22
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I mentioned in previous posts that I went on an "Epic European Vacation" in order to see the EU member states that I have yet to visit which comes out to 16 countries. The trip was a state of continuous travel from January 19th to June 5th. Sadly, I fell short of my goal by two countries. That said, it still meant that I visited or lived in 26 of 28 of them. I thought I'd post about some of those experiences here.

Note that the posts will not necessarily be in chronological order. Also, some of these were written the day of the trip while others will be written based on exclusively on my memory from the trip.

----------------------------------------------

Nicosia: Here I Am Now Going to the South Side
written January 21st, 2017

For those who are unaware, Nicosia is split in two with the south run by the Cypriot government and the north acting as the de facto capital city of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. I focused on the south side for my first day in the city.

I got up bright and early and started out on my trip to the Old Town. It was at this point that I realized that the public transportation in Cyprus was a bit unreliable to say the least. My hosts told me that I may have to wait upwards of a half hour in between buses depending on the time I need to get one! Meanwhile, the city is a bit over a half hour walk from where I was staying. So, I realized that my trip would involve a lot of walking and was grateful to have brought my sneakers with me.

Most of the walk to the Old Town was downhill which was nice. As I was walking towards the center of the city, I realized that Nicosia did not fit my preconceived notion of what a capital city in the European Union would look like. It is not an aesthetically pleasing city to look at. Most of the apartment buildings are pretty generic looking, clearly built to emphasize function over form while the sidewalks are uneven and sometimes just randomly disappear, leaving you walking on the narrow shoulder of the road as cars whizz by inches away from you. I hit another road block at various intersections because many traffic lights do not work properly for pedestrians. The lights weren’t a problem for cars but if you were walking, you’d wait from sunup to sundown hoping to see a green man. So, you really had to get down the traffic patterns at busy intersections before finding an opening to cut across simultaneously praying that nobody was in a rush to get somewhere. It wasn’t quite like third-world travelling, but the selective following of various traffic rules by the majority gave it that feel at times.

I saw the Venetian walls that once served as a means to protect the city from its many invaders through its storied history. Perhaps then they were effective against incoming battalions but now they appear almost laughable as a viable means of defense. I suppose it would slow people down but they can be climbed if you really wanted to do it. They exist solely as a reminder to what Nicosia once was and no longer is.


I wonder if the Venetians made Cyprus pay for that wall.

Upon reaching Old Town, I needed to orient myself and become familiar with the streets. The main street is called Ledra and contains multiple signposts that point you in the direction of popular tourist attractions. So it really wasn’t all that difficult for me to find my way around. For a person without the intuition and memory to navigate the streets of a city I’ve never been to, this was a great timesaver.


A segway tour group going through Old Town


A shot of Ledra Street on the South Side

Looking at the list of museums just in the southern half of Old Town, I thought that I would have more than enough things to do to fill up the entire day and then some. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The Byzantine Museum was closed before I could get to it (it closes at noon on Saturdays) and The National Struggle Museum was closed on weekends. I did go to the Cyprus Museum located outside of the Old Town but found it a bit of a ripoff especially after finding out that the best museum of Cypriot history is in the Old Town and has free admission. It is called the Leventis Municipal Museum and I recommend it if you’re a fan of museums.

After getting a look at that museum, I settled down and started hunting for some food. Food options in the southern part of Nicosia are reasonably priced and diverse, especially in comparison to the northern part of the city which I will get into later. You have your typical fast food joints such as Subway and KFC but also have plenty of other cuisines to choose from. Personally, I found the best value to be at Avo Armenian Food. For a mere 4 Euros, you can get a pizza for yourself and a soft drink. Even the kebabs weren’t cheaper than that! Delicious and well worth the money. I finished my meal and had a Cypriot coffee (basically Turkish coffee in an espresso cup) at a nearby cafe. The cup itself came to a mere 1 Euro and hit the spot for me.

I got some pictures of the north side of the city from The Ledra Street Observatory which is a part of the only tower in Nicosia. Going up a not so extraordinarily astounding 12 stories, you can see the north side including a nifty little flag of the TRNC that appears to be composed of color trees and shrub. It’s as though it was designed to mock the south for losing part of their island. It was a nice picture.



Here are the flags of Turkey and TRNC. Note that this isn't my picture.

It was just 4 PM when I finished what I wanted to do but there was more of the Old Town that I had yet to see. So I spent a while just aimlessly wandering about the side streets and seeing whatever was around. Aside from the sights close to the main drag, it was people just living out their lives. There were actually points where I saw nobody within eyeshot on a large street. When I heard The Call To Prayer over the loudspeakers from the north side, I wondered if there was some correlation between the two. I stood and watched the area, expecting that once the loudspeaker stopped that people would come back outside. The loudspeaker stopped and the businesses that were closed remained closed while the few people that were around didn’t seem to respond to the eerie silence that surrounded them.

I did plenty of walking on the day but had to do a bit more as I was invited by my hosts to have dinner with them. It was a pleasant, though not extremely eventful day in Cyprus for me.


Souvlaki for dinner at a nearby restaurant


The Liberty Monument. At the top, a woman symbolizing liberty stands between two soldiers who are freeing the Greek Cypriot prisoners


Falun Gong demonstration in Nicosia


Celebrating Vietnamese New Year with a free, open-air concert
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Old 09-15-2017, 08:59 PM   #23
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Maleme, Greece: To The Lost
written January 30th, 2017

Maleme is a small village that’s about a 30 minute bus ride from the main bus station in Chania. I decided to spend the afternoon in the Greek village after hearing about its historical significance during World War II where it served as the starting point for the Battle of Crete.

The thing with travelling on buses in Crete is that while each major city has its own bus station, a small village may only have a bus stop or two and not all of them even have the name of the village or stop on it. It would just be a small, square blue sign with the picture of a bus on it. The bus driver doesn’t announce the stops and won’t stop unless you request him/her to do so. Maleme had at least two stops going through it. After seeing a map off to the side and asking the people on the bus around me where to go, I got off next to a supermarket and stopped in for a gyro at a nearby restaurant to gain my bearings.

My main goal was to get to The German Cemetery. It is where the remains of over 4,000 German soldiers were interred after the battle was over. The signs on the way list it by the German name “Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof” which initially made it difficult to find since I don’t speak an inkling of German. Once putting two and two together, I made my way there.


An 8 meter iron cross stands at the entrance to the cemetery

I went down a long and winding road with an occasional house seen here or there. I wondered what it would be like to live in such a place. Yes, it would probably be a bit dull but at the same time very peaceful and calm in the winter. I just can’t imagine the pilgrimage up to the place during high season which is why I was quite happy to go there in January.

By the time I got to the top, it had started raining. I was a bit irked but then almost scared when I realized that nobody else was there. There was a decent-sized parking lot without a single car in it. There was a café nearby but it was closed, presumably because it’s offseason for tourism. The overcast skies created a gray backdrop to the light rain which moistened the grass that surrounded the headstones. There was nobody selling tickets or asking me for anything. Nobody was looking over the graves like I was. The whole place was empty.

Well except for these two fellas!


My company for the day.


They kindly escorted me throughout the cemetery

Who knew I would have a couple of tour guides taking me through the cemetery? The yellow lab was focused on following me while the black dog was focused on the yellow lab for reasons that became obvious quickly. The yellow lab was a smart one, constantly using me as a wall to separate itself from the overly sexualized black dog and nudging the back of my knee with its nose when it got stuck behind me and wanted to pass.

It was a bit of humor in a place that was dead serious. Soldiers as young as 16 were among the 4,000+ Nazi soldiers buried underground. It was quite impressive for people to go through the effort of doing this for the soldiers who tried to kill them and their ancestors. They weren’t getting paid to do it either. They volunteered to do this dirty work!



Only a small portion of the graves


Somebody still leaves flowers for these soldiers


Two unknown German soldiers


It almost feels as though people expect to find more remains

Aside from seeing the graves, I was able to get a couple of photos from the site of the distant surroundings.





A closer look at the homes in the distance.

I walked back the way I came with the dogs still following close behind, one continuing to nudge the back of my left knee as though she was telling me to go faster. They went over to an old lady who lived in a house right next to the cemetery. She didn’t respond kindly to them and I ventured that she wasn’t saying particularly nice things about them in Greek. I asked what was going on only to find out that they were missing and their owners didn’t respond promptly. She put up a Facebook message about the dogs and called the humane society but they apparently told her to deal with it herself.

I used the public restroom, came back to see a truck picking up one of the two dogs. So thankfully one of the two lost has now been found. I waived goodbye to the lady and hoped that the other owner comes back. She responded, “You take the dog. You take it.” and then closed the door behind her.

Yeah, this wasn’t a good thing. I checked the dog closely and saw that it had a chain on. Combining that with its friendliness toward humans, it was obvious that this was not a stray animal to be avoided. When I checked the chain, I saw that there were no tags on the dog. When I looked even closer at the chain, I saw that it was not broken meaning that the dog did not escape. Just by looking at its dirty legs, I could tell that this dog wasn’t just gone for a day or so.

Yup, an abandoned pet was following me everywhere I went. It absolutely broke my heart. I only imagine this dog following me to the bus and trying to get on, only to get kicked off by the driver or having the bus pull away while the dog is chasing it. Watching it stop every time a person came by or the roar of an engine was heard as though it was expecting to see its owner at any minute was hurtful. The look of anxiety on the dog’s face as it paced from side-to-side of the empty road looking for any sign of its owner was almost as depressing as walking through a gravesite of 4,000 German soldiers.

I knew there was no way for me to keep it. I didn’t have a Greek phone number or speak Greek. So, I had no idea who to call. All I knew was that a dog was following me and I had to see if somebody could look after it until somebody from an animal shelter, the owner, or police could do something. One middle-aged couple agreed to take in the dog and I figured that was the end of it. The dog was hesitant at first but I pointed to the flight of stairs and said “Go! Go!” The dog did as told and went up the stairs.

Not five minutes later, the dog nudges the back of my knee. The couple said they’d take it and then changed their mind and told the dog to piss off. That is not cool at all. The only person I spoke to in this village aside from the aforementioned people was the owner of the restaurant I ate at earlier. Figured that if he was unwilling to do anything then there was just nothing I could do. In line with everybody else, he refused to even move an inch to call somebody. He just responded by saying that there were dogs all over the area and that her owner would find the dog. It was pretty disheartening to hear that from an otherwise friendly, helpful person. I suppose that their indifference to animals is a function of the government’s unwillingness to do anything about it, leaving the problem in the hands of people who have been dealing with it for years and are sick of it. All I could do was sit and wait for the bus back to Chania.

A few minutes before the bus arrived, the dog scurried off behind another person hoping that he/she was their owner. I never saw her again.

Last edited by SuperUberBob; 09-15-2017 at 09:07 PM.
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Old 09-16-2017, 09:29 PM   #24
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Athens - Two Thousand Blood Orbs, Anything Goes

I was trying to make a decision between a ferry to Athens and a flight. The flight would be slightly more expensive and convenient but I kept reading on how I had to take a ferry because I could talk to a bunch of people. I heeded the advice only to realize that everybody was Greek and just doing their thing. I was the only tourist on the boat. On top of that, it was an overnight ferry in the winter which means it’s pointless to go outside and get a view of whatever is out there that isn’t water. I’m sure that I’d be more social if not for all these things going against me. Or maybe not. I have no idea.

I was pretty impressed with the quality of the ferry. I thought it would be some metal hunk of junk with hard, plastic chairs like most of the ones I've been on. Instead, it’s anything but that. Rather it's a bunch of people sleeping in chairs next to the café that I’m currently typing in.



People going to sleep around the café

No way was I going to get any sleep on this thing. Got a seat resembling that of a business class airplane seat for 38 Euros. Not a bad deal though it seems that most people aren’t even using their seats. Mine just had a hoodie on it to mark that it is taken.


Not a murder scene. Just people knowing that ferry berths are for suckers.

After at most 2 hours of interrupted sleep, the ferry arrived in Piraeus on time. Although Piraeus is often considered a part of Athens, it is really its own city. Aside from going from there into the city proper of Athens, I spent almost no time there as the only thing it appears to have that seems nice is the home stadium for Olympiakos. Only spent enough time to get a coffee while getting my bearings.

I found out that I needed to take the train into the city center which was a pretty long walk given that I overpacked for this long-term trip. Athens did not give me a positive first impression. As I was on the train, all I saw was graffiti, derelict buildings, factories and Olympiakos’s stadium. Perhaps heavy industry is what got hit hardest in the recession. The overcast weather didn’t really provide an upbeat atmosphere either.

It started raining when I got out at Monastiraki, a stop in the center of Athens about a 10 minute walk from Syntagma Square which is where many of the city’s museums are located. I previously reserved a place to keep my luggage as I could not check in with my host until 4 PM. Wandering around while barely staying awake would be a really bad idea so my hand was forced: I committed to doing something other than wandering around by going to the Acropolis.


A picture of Acropolis from below

It was as interesting and beautiful as I had expected it to be. The rain softened the dirt and made the rocks slippery but that just added a bit of a challenge to navigating it. I also found out that the museum was at half price due to the fact that it was offseason. Made out pretty damn well so far. Also decided to go to Ancient Agora and Roman Agora as well. Long walks around the city made time fly fast and soon enough it was time to check-in. The middle-aged woman let me into her apartment and I settled in. I familiarized myself with the immediate surroundings for a brief time before going to sleep for the next 16 hours.


A picture of Athens from atop The Acropolis


And another from The Acropolis


A dog sleeping at the front entrance.


The Odeon of Herodes Atticus
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