Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Unfamiliar feelings

If you met me in the past few weeks/months, sorry to tell you this, but most likely I was feeling constipated. Both mentally and okay, occasionally, literally. This little too much information was disclosed for a reason. It is why I haven't blogged for a very long time. Until now.

My lack of blogging probably bothered very few people, except Brian (Hello, Peterborough!). But it bothered me. It took me a very long time to figure out why I was so blocked. Yesterday it finally came to me when I sat down after a refreshing morning run... There has been a lot of unfamiliar feelings. That is why. The much-needed realization allows me to write this update to you. It is about time.

Back in May, Q and I flew to Cape Town, South Africa to attend our friend Gee's wedding. Yes, take note: we only befriend people with funny names like our own. It was my first time in Africa - allow me to ignorantly broaden this to the entire continent - and I was thrown into the deep end. With two warm and loving local families - I/we loved it! But staying with families also means deep in someone else's hair: we took a lot of effort to be good guests and adjusted to different family cultures. I managed to go for some runs while staying with Danielle and her adorable girls. It was a fenced-off golf course community living outside Cape Town. It was so deafening quiet at night that I got frightened from the automated sparklers going off. I am a little hesitant to use the South African expression here, but that is just my Canadian politically correct side freaking out: it was a "white" community.

Then we moved to stay with Gee's brother-in-law family, Deon and Karen, in Cape Town. It was a "colored" community. I was told not to run in the neighborhood. It was "a little risky". I don't want to come off as a racist, and you know I am not one. I only bring in the race topic because it is really a matter of fact in South Africa. In fact, it is in your face so much so that it would be wrong for me not to mention it. Read about colored in Wikipedia. I know many Americans and Canadians would most likely feel a bit uneasy with this topic - I know I was, but luckily the family adopted us into theirs with open arms, and that helped make me feel more at ease. The video below is me trying very badly to imitate Capetonian gangster walk and talk - thanks Brian (different Brian) for leading me. Again, I don't want to offend anyone, particularly not the Capetonian gangsters, with my silliness.

In June I was in China. I spent five weeks with my relatives. It was my first time in life spending so much time with my extended family alone, i.e. without parents or spouse. Just me. The dynamics was very tricky and rewarding. There was more interactions and I got to know my relatives much more and better. It was exactly what I needed and wanted, although very stuffy and overwhelming at times if you know what I mean.

University started in end of August, and of course it was easy since I have been away from university for only some 13 years... Not! Academic reading and writing was a tough learning curve for me. It still is, but it is getting better. There are 22 other individuals in the programme with 13 different nationalities - think many younger and more dynamic versions of me.

Group "sitting" (university campus dinner)

In October (this was previously incorrectly indicated as "November", my apologies) my father-in-law Bart passed away peacefully at his own home. He was surrounded by lots of love. In Bart's own words, he was "a Sunday's child". If you have to look up in a dictionary to see what the expression means - he got you and is probably gloating about it somewhere high above. It is a little too personal to discuss more at this point. A very unfamiliar feeling and I haven't got my head and heart around it yet.

Bart's study - very Bartish

Phew, so many unfamiliar feelings this year. Knowing me/us, we will likely continue having many changes and challenges. You see how I dropped running along the way as the cold and wet winter descended in Sweden. I recognize now that it is one of the easiest cures for constipation. My goal is to make plenty of runs in the new year and years to come. The number of blog postings will tell if I succeed or not. But what I loved about it is that I/we had the support and companion of all those we love - from Gee and Ali in Cape Town, to my cousins in China, to the pamily in Den Haag. We come together. Thank you.

Anyway the time now is 9 AM and it is time for a run. We wish you a Happy, not constipated,  2016!

So nice to have visitors especially family! :)


Tavi said...

Good to at last hear from Dos Chinos! Sorry to hear of Q's (and your) loss. Glad to be in the funny name club! Also, when i try to write about race relations i would very much prefer to be a Chinese woman rather than a white American man ;) Happy 2016!

Unknown said...

Hi Q and and Shu. You've made my day. At our wedding everything happened ao fast we had very little time to enjoy it. Reading this blog and watching this video really showed me the value of good friends and good times. We Love You guys. I know we'll keep making many happy memories together.

FreeTinkerer said...

Delighted to have you back to your blogging ways - Dos chinos en cuatro piernas! As always, I relished reading about your 2015 adventures. May you stay unconstipated (in every way) through 2016 and many more.

Gail at Large said...

If you're feeling ready for a dose of Latin culture (and some warm temperatures) again, you are always welcome to visit us in Portugal! We have a spare room waiting for you :)