2017 Wrap up: Significant Times and Gratitude

2017 has been an interesting one. Even though I spent most of it in Washington DC for eight months all up, it was fortunate enough for me to be there with friends elsewhere for their significant life events. And I am so grateful for that. In chronological order, there were cancer, marriage, death, and monkhood.

In December 2016 when in Bangkok, one of my best friends got a breast cancer and had an operation just before New Year. She was released from the hospital on New Year’s Eve. We gathered at her place to support her. How melancholy to start the year! Fortunately, she’s got a strong will. And eventually, she beat it.

February to June, I was in DC and needed to hop out of the country within 90 days. Another good timing in April when a friend, whom I worked with closely during the years in Bangkok, was getting married in UK. It was a perfect occasion for me to be her wedding guest. Actually, it was my very first time to attend a Christian ceremony. Also, it gave me some snippets of London after that too.

Got a break Bangkok in July and August. The last two weeks of that break was a real blow. My best friend suddenly got a stroke and passed away. His death got me think a lot about life. I always think about life but that reminded how to live your life worthwhile.

Back to work in DC in September to November. And I took a detour to visit a long lost cousin in Los Angeles before another break in Bangkok in December and January. Good news, another close friend was getting ordained to become a monk for three weeks. In Thai culture, this counts as one of the most honourable merits for a son to do for his parents. That was actually a pleasant way to end the year.

Wearing saffron rope #buddhist #Bangkok #temple

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These events overshadowed what I original planned and thought about 2017. Since the bold decision to work in DC in 2015 (which got me the hindsight about the journeys that made me), I have been embracing my life to be back and forth in DC and Bangkok in 2016. The plan for 2017 was to get back on track on other aspects, especially on the hypertension issue.

I’d like to do something about my drinking habits. I’d say alcohol control has been better than the previous years in DC. However, Bangkok is still a challenge to be disciplined. But, at least, I could pinpoint where the temptations are. On top of that, I’m back on meds that was deliberately ignored when I first moved to DC and keeping monitoring blood pressure.

Workwise, here were some notable ones:

While back-and-forth life of mind sounds exciting to able to change the scenes constantly throughout the year, I just can’t help thinking about settling in one place in the future. In the end, we have to do it at some point but I guess I would keep pushing it while I could.

2017 was full of significant times of my close friends. It was mixed with sickness, joy, loss, and gratitude. Yes, gratitude, that I should be feeling about it. It also made me prepare for the years to come.

LA Trip: Family Reconnected

I’m back in Bangkok as usual for this time of the year. But there’s a detour to Los Angeles for a few days before heading to Thailand. The main reason is to visit a long lost cousin and his family. Reconnecting with them is something I have to digest more than it was anticipated. And this blog post should be something that I need to articulate it.

I remember they were the only relatives from my mother’s side my in childhood’s loop. Over 30 years ago, they left for the States and we lost touch since. So, apart from step dad’s extended family, growing up, it was a huge gap not connected to any of my own large families. Neither from mom’s side nor dad’s (the tie with him was cut off since the divorce.) That gets me excited to meet them.

A quick note on how we found each other. With the power of social media, my cousin was able to track my brother down on Facebook. It started from there. And I’ve got a luxury to physically be in just across the continent, not the planet.

A short time I get to spend with them includes. The first evening in LA, my cousin, with his wife, and I catch up at a Thai place called Palms Thai Restaurant. They drive me around Thai Town, which I plan to explore it on the next day.

The day after the following day, we—the couple with their son and his wife and I—had a yum cha lunch in Monterey. We get back to my nephew’s apartment in Art District. My nephew (with small age gap, I prefer him to call me brother) and I do a pub crawl in the area. I find that we have similar tastes and even some good core values. Our conversation over good craft beers in local breweries is very enjoyable. We finish the evening in Little Tokyo. The rest of the family joins us there for dinner at a place that my cousin-in-law is long-time regular.

The day with the long lost extended family is so overwhelming that I need to wind down in a bar by myself. And the plan to get somewhere, like Venice Beach, on the next day is scrapped. I spend most of the day being a veg in the room until my cousin and his wife pick me up for dinner at a famous Thai boat noodles. And that is it, mission accomplished.

I can’t help thinking about when I travel to Nong Kai to catch up my father in 2014. That one got me to the mindset to get on with my life. But this reconnection shines some glimpse about family. Frankly, that doesn’t come easily for me. I’d say it is one of those missing puzzles in life. In the End, we can’t reverse how we grow up. Certainly, we could pick up some pieces together to understand it. This one is definitely a real reconnection.

Being INFP: Finally Found

Why am I doing this to myself? Why do I have to move around, unlike most people who seek stability, when there were chances to settle down? What frame of mind that makes me choose this life path? Those questions have been buggering me for a long time. Last year, when I dug deep into Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it has become clearer to me as an INFP.

The self-revelation exploded while I was at Sigor Rós concert in Detroit. That strange moment gave me the senses of clarity, purpose, and relieve. I could be able to get INFP personality traits to answer those questions about ‘how’ my brain works.

INFP is one of 16 personality types widely used to indicate psychological preferences. It stands for Introvert, iNtuition, Feeling, Perception. The meanings of each character are not the same as dictionary definitions. In the nutshell: INFPs are idealists driven by own core values and desire to exercise their creativity. No wonder why I’ve got a job as a multimedia producer for an international organisation that promotes ending poverty.

What I find it makes sense that how I often make such dramatic choices around arts. I could trace this alignment as far back as at least in the teen when I had the very first decision to make about going forward in high school. I might have to recall those educational paths in another time for a full story.

Then about sticking to my core values. This is what the clarity of my purpose about. There’s a fantasy world I want to make it possible. And I think I’m on that direction because it’s also been how I make choose life path. Oh boy, big goals ahead.

On the other hand, this MBTI tool is spot on about some issues INFPs need for self-improvement. I actually looking to work on those, especially I want to break those barriers to get to those ambitions.

Now, know-yourself bit is almost done. There are still hard bits to go on. Life!!!

 

Toilet Collection 2014-15

Another mobile photos of toilets in 2014-2015. Mostly in drinking around my neighbourhood in Bangkok, Phra Khanong, and also in some cities I’ve been: Yangon, Kuala Lumpur and Washington DC.

Less is more. Somewhere in Sarendah, Salangor, Malaysia. 7 January 2014.

A freak who enjoys discovering and sharing a simple beauty of life even in a strange place

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