suddenbrainstorms

Sudden [b]rainstorms:philosophy and bimboism–combined.

Love is insanity

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I promised posts and didn’t deliver.

How long has it been since that electric moment when I pressed publish on that last post? I think about a year and a couple of months.

Life can be unexpected. Brained in the head with falling flowerpot unexpected.

In my last post, I was dating a nice boy (had been for about 6 years) and had just resigned from my teaching job, had been set on moving to California or Pattaya, Thailand to live with said nice boy.

Life was going to go CRAZY, I promised. What with all the decisions, the job search, the moving, the unknown, the regrets, the non-regrets, the goodbyes, the reunions. I was also teaching IBHL Year 2 for the first time, so I had to deal with shepherding my seniors through that experience.

And as I promised, life did go crazy. Off the rails, crazy. As I promised at the end of that last post, I was about to go bloom like nothing else–like Japanese cherry blossoms in March, magical, all at once, overwhelmingly so. And I did. I felt ALIVE. The metaphor that kept coming back to me shaped itself in an earthquake. I felt like a seismic event. Tectonic plates shifting, internal landscapes disappearing, reappearing, transmorgified.

I was in love. And not with that nice boy (who, though very nice, had been not so nice to me in a relationship-specific way, the which, ambiguously, may or may not have been the catalyst for my spiraling upwards and downwards simultaneously into destruction and rebirth). It wasn’t completely above board, this new love. I fell in love with someone else while still in a long distance relationship with that nice boy–I flirted with that someone else while still dating that other nice boy.

I fell in love with someone else and we started dating right after I broke up with that nice boy. I had the decency to fly across the world to make the break up official. I did not cheat–unless you count emotionally, in which case then yes, yes, yes, I had cheated. But I don’t count emotionally–so there.

Love is transformative. Falling in love is a mental disease, some say, or at least it mimics the brain patterns of insanity. It is an addiction, a  potent cocktail of neurotransmitters lighting up your brain, creating pathways that make you feel invincible, make you feel like you can work on 3 hours of sleep (and you can,  based on my personal experience). You don’t just feel superhuman, you ARE one. Your immune system is enhanced, your emotions are transcendent, your senses sharpened. You feel smarter, more beautiful, more excited, more alive.

This man that I am in love with is not perfect, though the experience of falling in love will try to convince me he is so. But this man has made me happier than I have ever beenin real and concrete ways–ways that I have not experienced before. Mature ways. I am an adult in this relationship. And perhaps, that has been what I’ve been wanting, agitating for all along. That winter field, that hibernation… all that was just setting the stage for my metamorphosis into being an adult (or at least a creature closer to that of adulthood). Maybe all my dissatisfaction with my previous life was just an impatience to be an adult me. Maybe.

This past year, because love made me crazy and more alive I did the following:

  1. Humbly asked to un-resign.
  2. Decided always to move towards love and not away from it.
  3. Realized life is too short. I realized I had to embrace the YES and not wait for happiness. So I…
  4. Moved in with my man after half a year.
  5. Traveled to San Diego; San Francisco; Ashland, Or; Portland, Or; Seattle, WA, NYC, DC, Annapolis, Glacier National Park, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Munich, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Hawaii.
  6. Made new friends; went to parties where I knew no one; went to poker night; smoked cigars, TWICE.

I’ve lived more in this past year than I lived in the previous four years. This is what love can do. It can light you up like a sparkler. My love for his man is incandescent. It has lit me up like a sparkler. But I also have the feeling that this love I have will also be like the warm glow of a hot coal, and it will last a long time. Only time can tell. Regardless, look at what it has done to me and what beautiful and indelible experiences I’ve gathered to my bosom as a result.

 

Thank you, life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by suddenbrainstorms

January 9, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Taking Risks, Initiating Change

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I have taken a long break from writing–not just this blog, but in general! It’s definitely time for a change.

My life is currently in a state of upheaval. Which is excellent.

I would like to write about what’s been going on with me recently–forgive me for being out of practice with blogging; it has been a while.

 

Last year was my most comfortable year. I had finally managed my teaching load, I was eating fairly well, my boyfriend and I reached a very pleasant dynamic (little to no fights, very affectionate to each other), and I was getting in shape and really working out hard.

But there was something missing. Have you experienced it? When life is going too smoothly? The routines are too comfortable? Somehow I felt that I was just going through the motions, that there was something substantially missing inside of me. I thought back to the time in my life when I was startlingly, painfully, happy. That was when I was in my sophomore year of college and I was recovering from a heart smashed into smithereens. I had never been more alive and more happy than when I was in so much pain and so much hurt. I felt I was going through a transformative process–I was like the phoenix rising from the ashes.

That was it, I realized. It wasn’t that I was unhappy last year–it was simply that I felt dead inside. Emotionally and socially stagnant. Nothing was moving. I realized this when I was reunited with my family over Christmas Break and during a late night conversation with my sister, I found I had nothing to tell her.

“So, what’s going on in your life?” she asked.

I groped around, trying my best to come up with an answer that was NOT lame. I really did. But all I could come up with was: “I’ve been going to the gym a lot.”

Pretty pathetic, isn’t it? I knew something was wrong and something had to change.

 

When you make the decision to step outside your comfort zone, suddenly everything changes. And I mean EVERYTHING.

So yes: I took a risk. I took a HUGE risk. And it changed me. Was it pleasant? No. Was it rewarding? Hell, yes. It opened me up to possibilities I had never considered before; it opened me up to a new Me–a me that is capable of doing terrifying things, of doing unconventional things, of doing things that risk that which are most precious and valuable to her. It made me realize that I am capable of more than I thought.

Now is that empowering, or what?

 

And once you make that change, once you make that decision to step outside your comfort zone (or leap out of it, if you were me) you realize that you can survive a lot–that you are not only resilient in times of change, you thrive on it. So you start to make even bigger changes, start taking bigger risks.

And this leads me to my exciting announcement: I told my school on the first day back from summer break that I would not be returning for the next year.

 

How many times have you heard the phrase: no regrets? I used to be afraid of regretting things. Then, I swung too far in the opposite direction and thought I should just live life without any regrets. I now come to the realization that both stances are too extreme.

 

Oh, I anticipate that I will have many regrets. But! I am going to embrace those regrets because they are an important part of life and living. One cannot eliminate suffering and pain and fear in life, but one can become comfortable that those things are a daily reality. It is likely that I will regret this decision–I will suffer, feel pain, be afraid in this process. I must be comfortable with it.

 

Experiencing regret is no worse than inaction due to the fear of regret. I argue that it is probably better.

 

In the next couple of months, you will find me updating more regularly. I’ve been like a field in winter. I suppose I looked dead, but now Spring has arrived and the plants are coming back. Baby, they are coming back. So hang on tight because this is going to be an amazing ride.

Written by suddenbrainstorms

August 13, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Book Count

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At the beginning of the year, I decided I would read a book a week. I then proceeded to semi-review the books/talk about the books I was reading. I then proceeded to fall off the map.

While I didn’t do quite as well as I promised I would on my weekly blogging, I have actually been doing better about my reading. And I bet you thought I had been slacking of there too, you unbelievers, you!

Books that I particularly enjoyed will be underlined. Books that I more than enjoyed will be underlined AND bolded. And hey! I might even be not-lazy enough to put a little comment after each listing. We’ll how long that lasts.

In chronological order, I present: THE LIST OF BOOKS 2012 (thus far)

1) My Antonia by Willa Cather–Lovely. Just lovely. Slow and beautiful. I could see the prairie grass.

2) Knights of the Round Table (some strange version from Project Gutenberg)

3) A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf–Everyone should read this book. So beautifully written; so clever; so relevant.

4) Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

5) Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

6) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen–Jane Austen is hilarious. I don’t care if you think she’s boring. If you think she’s boring, you’re not paying attention!

7) Seaward by Susan Cooper–I prefer her The Dark is Rising series much more.

8) American Gods by Neil Gaiman–OMG. I love this book so much. I can’t even tell you how wonderful this book is. Imagine if the Gods (all of them) were among us. What would they be like? So epic, so greatly written, SO GOOD.

9) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green — I cried like a baby. Hazel and Gus’s story was beautiful.

10) The Moons of Jupiter by Alice Munro

11) The Lover by Marguerite Duras   — So beautifully written. So mesmerizing. God! READ IT. 

12) Vineland by Thomas Pynchon – Off the rocker humor. Crazy Crazy stuff. But good.

13) My Friend Dahmer by John Blackderf (Graphic Novel) – Dahmer. The Serial Killer? You remember him? John Blackderf knew him in High School. This is his memories of pre-murder Blackderf. Dark dark dark. Very sad. Very Creepy.

14) Demo by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (Graphic Novel)

15) Demo II by Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan (Graphic Novel)

16 Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – Not one likable character in the novel. Yet I couldn’t stop reading. It was like watching a train wreck.

17) The Unknown Masterpiece and other stories by Honore de Balzac

18) Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe (Reread–one of my childhood favorites that was not quite as good on a second reading. The religious stuff was not appealing. Neither was the racism and the slave taking…)

19) Slapstick by Kurt Vonnegut

20) The Big Four by Agatha Christie

21) Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

22) My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (Felt I should have liked this more, but maybe it’s just not my style?)

23) Black Hole by Charles Burns (Graphic Novel)

24) Street Angel by Jim Rugg (Graphic Novel) — Just a rollickin’ good time!

25) A Song of Fire and Ice: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

26)A Song of Fire and Ice: A Clash of Kingsby George R. R. Martin

27)A Song of Fire and Ice: A Storm of Swordsby George R. R. Martin

28) A Song of Fire and Ice: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

29)A Song of Fire and Ice: A Dance with Dragonsby George R. R. Martin

30) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers — So good. Took me longer than usual to finish. Something about the way it was written… it’s like a slow river. You have to let it take its own time.

31) All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque — So good. So sad. Everyone should read this book. Really.

 

So yeah, I did get lazy towards the end. I didn’t really want to get into the whole Game of Thrones “let’s talk about how we really feel about the series stuff”. It was absorbing enough for me to read all five of them in a row. Each book is approximately 800 to 900 pages long. Enough said.

I am currently reading our schoolwide summer reading text: Machiavelli’s The Prince.

I… can’t wait to have a discussion with my freshmen… <worried voice>

 

 

So I’m dumb and after putting in the links it looks like I “liked” the entire list. The “real” underlined ones are the ones in which the entire entry has been underlined. You have been told.

 

 

This happened yesterday: I bit my tongue so hard, I thought I was going to die. Blood and everything. Pretty sure I’ve sheared through the tastebuds at the tip of my tongue. Eat slowly folks. Biting your own tongue is not a pretty business.

 

Weird

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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

It’s weird how we are all these separate individual beating stars grasping towards one another’s radiance. We are too cold by ourselves, I suppose. But of course it is all an illusion and what we see is only that which we long for, not what is.

And no one is able to speak and make themselves heard and known. To Know. That is what is important, but no one can Know what is inside another person, not truly, not fully, not wholly.

So what can we do?

 

Here is an interesting poem:

“The Lonely Hunter”  by William Sharp

Green branches, green branches, I see you beckon; I follow!
Sweet is the place you guard, there in the rowan-tree hollow.
There he lies in the darkness, under the frail white flowers,
Heedless at last, in the silence, of these sweet midsummer hours.

But sweeter, it may be, the moss whereon he is sleeping now,
And sweeter the fragrant flowers that may crown his moon-white brow:
And sweeter the shady place deep in an Eden hollow
Wherein he dreams I am with him — and, dreaming, whispers, “Follow!”

Green wind from the green-gold branches, what is the song you bring?
What are all songs for me, now, who no more care to sing?
Deep in the heart of Summer, sweet is life to me still,
But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill.

Green is that hill and lonely, set far in a shadowy place;
White is the hunter’s quarry, a lost-loved human face:
O hunting heart, shall you find it, with arrow of failing breath,
Led o’er a green hill lonely by the shadowy hound of Death?

Green branches, green branches, you sing of a sorrow olden,
But now it is midsummer weather, earth-young, sun-ripe, golden:
Here I stand and I wait, here in the rowan-tree hollow,
But never a green leaf whispers, “Follow, oh, Follow, Follow!”

O never a green leaf whispers, where the green-gold branches swing:
O never a song I hear now, where one was wont to sing.
Here in the heart of Summer, sweet is life to me still,
But my heart is a lonely hunter that hunts on a lonely hill.

 

 

Written by suddenbrainstorms

June 18, 2012 at 12:14 am

Today’s Adventure: Taipei’s Jiantan Mountain Trail

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Today’s adventure: Jiantan Mountain Trail

It rained for more than 12 hours yesterday; imagine full-on thunder and lightning all through the night! Apparently there were even landslides in southern Taiwan, and the country called an emergency day so work was cancelled.

This meant that I was cooped up at home all day cursing the dismal weather.

Thankfully, the weather cleared up today which meant that we could go on our hike up Jiantan Mountain. The weather was actually beautiful–perfect slight post-rain coolness. The only downside was the misty/foggy air in the morning. My theory is that it’s the humidity from yesterday’s near constant downpour.

1) The trailhead is easy to find. It’s 10 minutes from the station and there are signs that point the way. The beginning of the trail is clearly demarcated with a Chinese-style gate; there is also a big map of all the trails that loop around the mountain. It is my hope that I will be able to take the mountain trail that leads all the way to the end of this particular mountain range some day!

2) The trail itself is not particularly strenuous (or perhaps it was just the particular section we were walking)–I found it easier than the Lion Head Mountain trail. It was also less secluded and there were a lot of elderly folks wandering up and down the trails. Plus karaoke stations. Plus tennis courts. Plus playgrounds. It’s a very self-sustaining community that inhabits this particular mountain!


3) We trespassed into the area below the tall signaling tower. By accident! I promise! We took a little detour path up a hill, not knowing it was off limits! Still, it was pretty cool.

4) We returned to the main path and headed to the observation tower where we could make out the vague outline of Taipei 101. I’m sure on a day with crystal blue skies, the view would have been amazing. My iphone shots clearly can’t penetrate the grey mist that enshrouds the city. Nevertheless, it was still a nice view and there was a very pleasant breeze!

5) Lots of cool and strange bugs on the mountain. I was ravaged by the more mundane mosquito, but this is also part of an interesting story. While we were almost down the mountain, a local lady pointed out a massive mozzie bite on my thigh. She plucked a shoot from a plant growing on the mountain and told me to rub my bites with them! I rubbed my bites (they were itching like mad) and kept hoping it wasn’t poisonous or a randomly chosen plant. It didn’t really seem to do anything…until I noticed that the bites I rubbed the leaf on have disappeared without a trace. No mark, no scar, no little dot! The bites that I neglected have a little bite mark scar on my leg! What could that magical plant have been!!!


Last picture: Romantic/Gloomy view from JianTan as we descended.

The end of the story: We went back on the MRT and headed to the delicious Thai food place next to Shipai MRT. (Really, one of the best places for authentic Thai food I’ve found in Taipei–and cheap!)

The weather became even nicer towards the end of the day–blue skies and whatnot.

Oh second funny story of the day: I took a free bone density test, and it turns out that my bones are below normal for my age! The people were super nice and (apart from half-heartedly trying to sell me Calcium supplements) also gave me tons of advice like: go exercising, do resistance training, eat more protein, get more sun (vitamin D), drink Milk! They were all horrified that my bones were soft. How sweet.

So I bought a bottle of fresh milk and had a glass. Well.

That’s the end of today’s adventures.

Good bye!
Last thought:

Taiwan is amazing. We bought a computer from PChome this morning at 9.40 (not even online; I called them and gave them the product code). We chose to pay Cash on ARRIVAL of product! Can you believe that?! And guess when the computer arrived? TODAY at 4.50 pm.

Love this place! (When it’s not raining)

Written by suddenbrainstorms

June 13, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Today’s Adventure: Taipei’s Bitan

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Today, we went on an adventure to the more southerly parts of Taipei.

Bitan Lake!

The nearest MRT stop is Xindian on the Green Line–and all the interesting stops are within  5 to 10 minutes walking distance. It’s a lovely way to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Taipei without too much hassle. When we were there, we could even get a free show of hot hunks practicing for the dragon boat races. The paddle-boat master told us that May 5th (Duan Wu Festival) is a great time to go and watch the annual races. International dragon boat racing teams converge on Bitan to showcase their muscles and their talent.

Our first stop was Lion’s Head Mountain. He insisted on going for a hike, so up we went!

This is the view from somewhere near the top of the trail. I didn’t manage to get all the way up because I am crazy out of shape, but he told me that Taipei 101 was visible from the summit! Unimpeded views! 360 degrees of panoramic views! When I am in better shape I will lug my ass up the mountain.

We went back down and headed the the famed suspension bridge.

On the West Bank of the bridge are two tea houses, but they were mad expensive and obviously there to rip people off so we didn’t go. Instead, we decided to spend our money on a different sort of tourist trap. That’s right, we rented a swan-shaped paddle-boat.

Here’s one view of our trusty friend. If I had been thinking more clearly I would have also taken a south-facing shot to capture the beautiful mountains and the beautiful blue water.  Oh well. The paddle-boat cost 300NT (with 100NT deposit) for an hour. Within 20 minutes we were more or less done with the paddling around, but I’m still glad we did it. We got some great time with these beautiful waterfowl, and got a good look at the dragon boat races hosting practices.

And then we decided to hit up the traditional cake store: Jin Cheng Lan. It was definitely a hole in the wall and I didn’t take any pictures because it slipped my mind, but you could have walked right past it without even noticing. We bought a bunch of traditional snacks and our resident snack expert definitely approved.

I’m definitely coming back here! And next time, I’m climbing to the top!

Written by suddenbrainstorms

June 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Taipei

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Reframing Information and Sense and Sensibility

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On Reframing Information

On Friday, I received the results of the anonymous student surveys given to my students early this semester

To give you a bit of context, my day had not been going very well. I was exhausted from a draining week, on a physical and emotional ride as a result of a inadvised cup of coffee, and worried about talking to a student about retracting an offer for a recommendation.

I had been expecting happy reviews; I love my students and I assumed that it was a reciprocal relationship.

My assumption was inaccurate. I opened the document, and, bar graph after bar graph scrolling by, I was assaulted by the knowledge that my students hated me.

They strongly disagreed that I cared for them as human beings; strongly disagreed about my knowledge of the subject; strongly disagreed about my ability to inspire them.

It was a wound. Indeed it was. Certainly, there were students who liked what I was doing. The written comments were nice—glowing, even. But, those three students. Those three students!

Who were they? The question haunted me. Which of my freshmen hated me? I felt blindsided—my relationship with my freshmen was characterized by so much happiness and goodwill. How was this possible?! Who was it that I was missing?!

“That way leads to madness,” I found myself saying, pseudo-quoting all the wise mentor figures of pop culture.

But I couldn’t let it go. The trauma was undoing. Now, I wasn’t crying or weeping or anything—but I was vexed, sad, and upset.

Rationally, I knew that the outliers should be considered with a grain of salt. Emotionally, I was unable to deal with the real hurt feelings it inspired in me. Finally, I knew I had to do something (or risk becoming a paranoid android).

So, I went home. I pored through the document. I took out my post-it notes.

For every single measure, I wrote down the percentage of those who strongly agreed or agreed with the statement. (The statements were all positively worded, and were like: My teacher is organized and well-prepared for class).

Turns out 86% of my students think I care about them. 99% of my students think that my homework is relevant. 96% think my assessments measure what I teach. And so on.

In all categories, there was a majority (and in some cases, an overwhelming majority) of students who thought I was doing all right.

The numbers on the post-its painted such a different picture of the information in the document; it was easy to forget about obsessing over that one person who said “strongly disagree” when it was clear that across the board, I was doing an okay job.

To end with a self-help-book-esque conclusion:

If ever you feel overwhelmed by information, when you feel upset, down, or crushed, remember to REFRAME your information; REFRAME your context.

Perspective and a healthy dose of knowing how best you process the world will give you sanity and happiness.

Part II:

Sense and Sensibility

This might be a poem.

Here are my teacher notes:

Remember to talk about the inheritance of characteristics across generations.

Remember to talk about how the “similar” child gains the affection of the parent.

Remember to talk about “sensibility” as sensing, sensation, sensuality.

Remember to talk about how characters change and grow and react to adversity.

Remember to talk about character foils.

Remember to talk about the artificial dichotomy between Marianne and Elinor, between sense and sensiblity.

Remember to talk about the importance of “social forms” during their time.

Remember to talk about good breeding vs good people (politeness, observance of forms, wealth vs genuine niceness).

Remember to talk about the role and status of women in society.

Remember to talk about how FUNNY it is.

Remember to talk about the “geometry” of the novel.

Part III:

To balance out the heft of Sense and Sensibility, I will be reading Susan Cooper’s Seaward next. A Young Adult Novel. I’m excited.