Saturday, May 31, 2003

Per request of my big sister Shirts....

The top one I got done (partly out of spite, once I'd left home at age 17) in El Paso, Texas and had to beg the guy to do it cause he was pretty messed up. The bottom one was done in San Diego, California when I was 25, in the Navy and bored one long evening.

Contrary to popular belief, I was stone cold sober and clean when I had both of them done. My plan is to get both of them covered and extended (in length) when I move to Asia, with more of an Asian style of art.

-Jeeem (exposed)-

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

I just purchased a digital camera.

Not your "run of the mill" digital camera, but a tiny little thing with all sorts of bells and whistles that will fit into the palm of my hand with room to spare. I also got one of those "memory sticks" that will hold about twenty billion photos and short, fifteen second movies. Cool beans. I fired it up this morning and took a picture of myself, utilizing the "self-timer" feature.

Yes, that is how I look in the early morning. Scary huh?

So, I'm pressing forward towards my goal of moving to China by September. I've enrolled with the Boston Academy of English in Boston, Massachusetts, for my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate and I begin classes June 7th. College classes at CLL and my TEFL classes will sort of overlap for a bit, but hopefully I'll be able to keep my head above water. I graduate from BAE in late August, taking classes only on Saturdays.

The rest of my time here has been spent working on my mid-term exam at the University of New Hampshire library and putting my research project together. Things on the home front have been a bit difficult, mostly through the rough integration of Jim's World with Wanda's world, but things seem to be leveling out. I've primarily lived a solitary, independent life for the past twelve years so being under the roof with three females, (Six, if you count the dog and two cats) was an adjustment to say the least.

Nothing much more to report except for happening upon a rather interesting chap, Stephen Savage from Australia who is engaged in some rather interesting international travel. I was contacted by Steve, through PLACE TO STAY dot net, having totally forgotten that I had registered with the site when I owned my last home. So, after a couple of e-mails back and forth, it seems Steve and I may still cross paths if he ventures this direction on his way to New York, before I head East.

If you want to follow Steve's progress during his travels, click HERE and it will take you to his website.

Pretty interesting stuff.

Till we meet again,


Friday, May 16, 2003


"Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism.... Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others."
Emma Goldman

Last Saturday morning two Jehovah's Witnesses showed up at the door. I greeted them, shook their hands and ended up talking to them for at least an hour. Afterwards, I thought of the lesson I learned a few years ago after having made a derogatory comment about Jehovah's Witnesses. The woman I was living with at the time asked me point-blank: "Why did you make that comment about Jehovah's Witnesses?" My answer was not convincing, having no rationale other than pure prejudice.

I have since learned to respect Jehovah's Witnesses for what they believe and for devoting their lives to bringing their belief to others. I also learned that the people knocking on my door were good people and that my feelings for them in the past was based in an unfounded prejudice which I had adopted from others. Prejudice is passed on from generation to generation, family to family, person to person, often without rational thought or reason. So, it is up to each one of us to reverse this process by teaching kindness.

I'm sure I have mentioned it before....the lesson I learned from one of my client's at the prison. When confronting another individual, ask yourself three questions before you open your mouth and if you cannot answer "yes" to every question, keep your mouth shut. The three questions to ask yourself are:

1) Is it kind?
2) Is it necessary?
3) Is it true?

Recently, in one of my Social Psychology classes, my professor made the statement that we, as a race, are more cruel to one another than any other species. He supported this by showing a video on the subject, which was rather shocking and embarrassing. Americans and Western Europeans were used as test subjects, which made me wonder what would have happened if other cultures had been tested.

Americans, Canadians, Africans, Europeans, Indonesians.....

That got me thinking. Am I an American simply because I live in America? Does living in a particular country give you the label of that particular country? Am I patriotic? Supposedly, an element of democracy is the ability and "freedom" to speak out against one's government without retribution. Americans have been doing just that, speaking out against their government, for centuries. Is it truly without retribution though? I'm sure my name is on some damn "list," in some agency, just waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

Emma Goldman's statement is true. On a smaller scale, while growing up I used to brag about living in the largest house on the block.

Like my revelation of prejudice, I have, over the course of time, come to the conclusion that I cannot limit myself to the confines of patriotism. I now call myself a "Worldian," staking my claim over a broader area, yet still remaining in the confines of our planet earth, which we as a species are slowly destroying. Perhaps in the future I might broaden my horizons and become a Universian.

While talking to those two nice people last Saturday, I remembered an acquaintance of mine who remained seated at our high school pep rally, during the playing of the national anthem. He was not only ridiculed for his actions, he was severely beaten by several bullies who were present at that pep rally. He was a Jehovah Witness. I told my Saturday visitors about this and asked them why they don't stand during the national anthem. I liked their answer and realized for the first time that it wasn't meant as an non-patriotic act but rather as a personal statement of what they believe.

There was no pressure to try and convert me last Saturday. I spend an hour having an intelligent conversation with two people who were nice. I enjoyed it and thought of the number of times I slammed the door in the face of innocent people knocking at my door. I apologized to them for my actions in the past and we chatted about world peace. Some might call it insignificant, but I believe it is a start. Heck, wars start between two people, why can't world peace start the same way?

Day-by-day the sides of my "box" become more evident as I try to throw my leg over the side....


Saturday, May 10, 2003

Based on a couple of recent comments from people I actively correspond with, I feel the need to write a disclaimer of sorts.

But first, I must say that it interests me how the majority of U.S. citizens I correspond with, view life in such a linear fashion. By linear, I mean Black and White, Right or Wrong, Either/Or.

What ever happened to the middle ground?

It interests me that individuals see things in such a limiting fashion and I wonder where they picked this up along their path of life. I say "U.S. citizens" because it is my observation that people from other cultures, even other individualist cultures, often do not think this way, at least in my experience (God help me when another linear thinker gets ahold of that comment).

Linear thinking, or the inability to understand the interdependences or web of relationships of our complex world, is in my opinion, the lazy man's way out of having to put some effort into his or her thought process. Critical? Yes.....but I regress to a time when I too, thought in a linear fashion and still do at times. My trouble is not so much with the linear thinker as it is the linear thinker who wants to place me into their "square one box" or their proverbial "cardboard conservatism."

No wonder we, as a group of individuals in this world, often do not get along. Have you ever thought about the number of times you have been misunderstood? Most likely you were often misunderstood and didn't even know it, walking away with a smile on your face, when had you known what the individual you were conversing with thought you said, you would have taken the time and patience for an elaborate rebuttal, ensuring the person walked away with the correct meaning in his or her little head.

Linear thinkers just don't take the time.

When I make a statement about my beliefs, my morals, my values in life, I am not talking or thinking outloud in a linear fashion. I am not right nor am I wrong. I am not good nor am I bad. I am not either nor or. I just am. I do not practice any of my beliefs or philosophies in a puritanical fashion for I still run some of my old schemas in my head, as others do, but I can say I try to stick to my guns. I'm not perfect nor have I met anyone who is perfect. We all strive to be the best we can be, or at least one can only hope we do.

"In this postmodern world, cultural conflicts are becoming more dangerous than at any time in history. A new model of coexistence is needed, based on man's transcending himself." -- Vaclav Havel, President of the Czech Republic

Take the time to is a standard ingredient in the mechanism of communication.


Thursday, May 08, 2003

My house finally sold!

I will be closing the deal tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. and will walk away with enough money to pay off all my bills and still have some mad money to play with. I've decided to consolidate and have already begun to sell off most of my possessions leaving only what I can pack in a few suitcases or ship to where ever it is I am going, as the remainder of my life will be devoted to traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. Dragging around a bunch of crap or having to store my stuff just wouldn't work out.

Today is a blustery, rainy and cold day. A good day to head out to the library and do some research on my college paper, which will be entitled, "Living Outside the Box - A Lesson in Social Deviance." I'm adjusting well to my move and finally getting settled in and comfortable. My future plans are still intact and in answer to many peoples questions, here is the latest....

I will be choosing a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course either in the states or abroad, within the next two months and as soon as my last class in college is over with, I plan to sign up for a TEFL course, fly out to attend it and pick up my TEFL certificate before August rolls around. Then, I'll have another look-see at the China situation. SAR's has most assuredly dampened my plans a bit but I do not suspect it will be around forever so I still plan on heading to China in September if not late August.

I will be selling my truck in July because I won't need it anymore and it is a rather expensive monthly payment for the luxury of having a four-wheel drive truck and hopefully, the rest of my life, I'll be in the position to never have to drive again and will just shift to public transportation. I will be obtaining an international drivers license though, just in case.

News flash!

.....Wanda has sent for her passport and will be receiving it soon in the mail! There's no turning back now, as we both plan to travel and teach together once the kids are grown. I still laugh when I think about my perfect partner being right under my nose all these years without me even knowing it. I think everybody ought to be friends with their mate first, prior to engaging in a more serious relationship, although ours was NOT a planned thing by any means.

I recently received an e-mail from my childhood friend Debbie, who now lives in the tornado devastated western part of Missouri but is miraculously okay. Deb told me she envied me my freedom and doing what I want to do in life. She is a good pal and I've known her since third grade. Deb is embroiled in an abusive marriage, on many levels, and I used to fight with her about it telling her to get out and to focus on being happy. I don't do that anymore because although she listens, she still remains in that relationship. This thought got me going on some of my theories again....

Although many of my good friends and acquaintances tell me they envy me in what I'm doing, there are an equal amount of people I know who think I'm nuts. Thus, the reason for my research paper on "Living Outside the Box - A Lesson in Social Deviance." You see, no matter what you do in life and no matter how you come by it, somebody will agree with you, somebody will envy you, somebody will disagree with you and somebody will think you are nuts.

I am not entirely taking credit for fulfilling some sort of life's dream. My life has taken me in many different directions and only ten years ago, the path I had chosen was taking me to sure destruction. William James was a determinist thinker, postulating that everything was in the big plan and no matter what you do, say or think, it was meant to be.....predetermined.

I don't believe that. I think that what you do, say and think is what determines where your big plan takes you. There has been many times I've made a decision and thought to myself, "Wow, was that ever stupid," but the direct result of that "stupid" decision had a major impact on something else that happened in my life at a later date. Sometimes that major impact was good and sometimes it was bad, but it always taught me something. I think everything is somehow interconnected.

So, in remembering that, I've gotten off my soapbox with Deb and although it's hard to see her go through the unhappiness and fear she is putting herself through, I have to just be a friend and support her decision, even if her decision is to do nothing. Nothing, in-and-of-itself, is a decision. Perhaps there is a reason for it all and perhaps it will bring her to a better place eventually. It's not about how quickly you get there, it's about getting there. If she never gets there, well.....I guess I need to still just support her like a friend should and never try and force my expectations on her.

So, my decision to free myself up from material pleasures, choose a life of travel on a shoestring and immersion in foreign culture may lead to my death but then something is going to lead me there eventually and when my time comes up, I'd rather be DOING what I love rather than just TALKING about it.

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