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The chronicles of two Portlanders in Singapore

Apologies my dear readers.  Monday1Sunday came and went and here we are Tuesday morning2Monday afternoon and only now am I posting.  Well fear not. This week’s delay has nothing to do with that other site, but rather a planned excursion and day of hooky for the sole breadwinner.  We went to Indonesia to play golf.

I’ve written of golf before.  Singapore has a few golf courses, but this nation being a small island, land is at a premium, so golf prices in the Lion City are… excessive.  Fortunately, the Indonesian island of Batam is a forty-five minute ferry ride and dotted with golf courses where budget-conscious Singaporeans can get their stroke on without having to take out a second mortgage.  I rather like Batam, it’s a very chill place and I think they sort of pride themselves on being on the calm side of the strait.  And while Singapore is amazing for food, there’s something about getting your fix locally, and Indonesian food is amazing.

The prices for Tiger are much lower too.

So we got up early yesterday, at 5:30am, drove out to the ferry, and did our thing.  There was some cussing, there was a lot of laughter, a few high fives, and even two pars on my part.  There was little sun, which was perfect.  We played in the rain, which ranged from a cooling drizzle to a drenching steady pour.  I joked that I should have worn a sweater.

This was needed convalescence.  Last week brought no end of bad news, personally and from the world abroad.  A friend of my fathers – one of his closest – passed away after a battle with cancer.  Delays and confusion mar our return to the States, to which I am ill-qualified to speak of in diplomatic terms.  I will say, and yes I know that some of my audience works for the little shoe company in Beaverton, that not being in control of your own living situation is not something I am familiar with, nor pleased with.  Beverly will likely come home today after reading this and say, “HAH!  THATS WHAT I’VE BEEN SAYING!” but I think I’m honest enough with myself to admit that I have a bit of control problem.  Not being in control, that’s the problem.

But before any discussion arises — let me rush to assure you, reader, that I am here not only as support for my blushing bride and because I’ve always wanted to see Angkor Wat, but rather that I’ve chosen to look at this trip as a means of personal growth.  Learning the unknown, and this is a big one here; because I am so well-read, I tend to think I know more than I actually do.  I love books, I love to read, but being here, being a fish out of water, a rose out of Portland, is worth more than the written word can ever offer.  But it’s not all just sating wanderlust and filling up my passport with stamps.  There’s a personal lesson to be learned here – several, perhaps.  And chief amongst those is learning that, no matter how hard you may try, control is an illusion.  Life will move around you like water does the rock in the stream.  The flow of the river is altered slightly, and so is the rock, smoothed over and formed by constant motion around it.

Wisdom, they say, comes to all of us.  Whether we like it or not.

Another lesson that I’ve been learning – the myriads of privilege3and how to spell the fucking word and how they apply to my life, my circles, the world at large.  This past week… well, this past week tried those lessons and hard.  I have no clear conception of what’s going on in the United States right now.  From what I’ve read and watched, it could be anything from “business as usual”4a phrase that in this context makes me want to throw this laptop through the window to utter fucking chaos.

My views of current events are a bit skewed at the moment.  Living in the future actually seems to be a poor description.  As the east coast is exactly twelve hours behind us, news sometimes comes across the day after5or before?  I’ve just confused myself here as I wake up, my phone stoically notifying me that Facebook is blowing the fuck up right now, or that Twitter just shittered itself over this new story or the next new story and the one after that until it never sounds like nothing new is happening, just the same fucking bullshit.  People being shot by the bushel in the US while the rest of the world looks on in confusion.  Facebook as a source of news tends to be very left-leaning because my friends are mostly left-leaning.  Those friends that are not tend not to be vocal.  Those acquaintances that have been vocal with hate-filled views have been expunged6and thus no longer receive notifications of these posts via Facebook, I guess?, but oddly7or not, sadly I don’t seem to have a lot of measured right-wing viewpoints.

But I am dimly aware that there’s some shit going on in the States.  #BlackLivesMatter is a common hashtag and discussion point on my feeds.  I am aware that to some degree that movement has been denounced8the first word that came to mind here is “denigrated” and that did not feel appropriate given its etymology and at times blamed for the insanity in Dallas.  I’m aware that all the usual terrible Republicans are saying all the usual terrible things, but then I read an article where Marco Rubio9also known as the second-least terrible when compared to Kasich, Trump, Carson and Cruz had a measured, appreciative stance that said, for all intents and purposes, that if people are scared, maybe, just fucking maybe, there’s a reason for that.

This whole Blue/All/White/Whatever Lives Matter reaction — and make no fucking mistakes, here, these are reactionary — stems from the idea that if we say “Black Lives Matter”, or “Latino Lives Matter”, or insert any oppressed people instead, that we’re saying that other lives don’t matter, or don’t matter as much.  Which is ridiculous and pedantic.  Of fucking course all lives are important.  Sometimes, apparently we need to be reminded that “all” really does mean everything fucking group of people, not just your group of people.

And yes, there’s some counter-reactionary crap going on out there and its just as fucking deplorable.  In Portland, a pretty well-known agitator10so well known folks were posting about him during Pride — a conservative rabble-rouser who runs a site that mocks “liberals” by posting video and pictures of trans* folks and inciting ridicule of their other-ness — was arrested after he nearly lost his goddamned mind and pulled his piece out at BLM protestors.  He’s getting the book thrown at him, which I’m not sure if I agree with, but its within the law and I imagine that he’s made few friends within the city.  However, when a friend had shared someone’s posting “doxing”11internet slang for publishing someone’s personal details, usually home address and phone number with the clear implication that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if people used this information to harrass the victim the man, I had to speak up.

Before this post, it’s one of the few things I’ve said publicly about this whole fucking mess.  I’m still hesitant about putting this out there.  I don’t need to be the asshole on the mountain shouting down at everyone else, because I am ill informed and already fatigued trying to separate out the noise from the news.  But neither do I want to simply stand by, raise my hands in frustration and say, “Well, I’m in Asia, what can I do about it?” because that too is an extension of my privilege.

For a long time, I would feel ashamed of all that I had, and would wallow in the things that made me different, made me the “lesser”, even if that making was done completely within my head.  I still do, from time to time, feel that powerful urge to wallow in self-pity and exalt in my weirdness.  These are lessons that I’m learning even still.  They don’t necessarily need to be taught one degree north of the Equator, but isn’t it true that you can yourself a bit clearer when you’re pulled out of the normal?  When you’ve been moved to different soil and asked to grow new stems and flower in stranger climates.

And I worry too, that this self-reflection is being done a day late, a moment of realization short, as if there will be a score card at the end of it all.  That maybe I took a few more moves than the rest of us, finished slightly over par.  I know I shouldn’t worry — none of us should, we all move at our own paces and that is the lesson that I’m learning the best here.

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