Some paint, some sketch, some sing, some dance, some eat, some drive, some sleep, some sob, and while I occasionally do a bit of this and that, I find myself writing things as a coping mechanism for my stress, loneliness, boredom and frustration, and as a way to let out my creativity and random thoughts. I don’t know, but somehow it can be quite a soothing process, comparable to a quiet walk in the rain by myself for like an hour or so…
Given the fact that I grew up being quiet a lot of the time, speech was (and probably still is) not my ideal way of self-expression. I would sometimes find myself lost in my own words, not knowing what I was talking about or what was supposed to come next. I dapped into visual arts for a good while, too, in the the form of pencil sketching, as a way to deal with my surroundings and to kill my time. I would spend hours pencil-drawing flowers and human portraits. I actually quite got into this at one point, sketching a few portraits or Westlife and Andy Roddick - in fact, I’ve got a few of my sketches of them framed, too. Those were the days. I still do this nowadays, too, but not as “hardcore” as before. It’s mainly just me doodling stuff on scrapped papers and post-it notes when I find myself bored and able to spare some time sketching away. It’s just totally random stuff, squiggling around on margins of papers and such. It could get outa hand sometimes, taking over entire pages; that’s when I know I’ve reached the point of “I need to freakin’ get outa here or I’d die.” And then came photography, and this hobby has allowed to explored the visual arts side of me even more, opening me up to a lot more opportunities to express myself through imagery and colors (of which sketching was devoid, now that I think about it). But I know there’s still a lot for me to learn in this field of photo-taking for me to be able to convey my emotions and thoughts through a photo, but I’ll get there someday, and when I do, it’ll be another best day ever.
No matter what I do to be expressive - be it through speeches, sketches or photos - I eventually find myself writing things down (or typing them up). For a moment, I feel like I have all the time in the world to form my thought or let it run free through my sentences. I don’t have to worry about people interrupting my train of thoughts or cut me off before I can make my point. I don’t need to enter into a conversation where I would feel responsible for maintaining it, for making sure it’s as engaging as I want it to be. There’s no point for me to constantly assess the mood and reaction of the people who are going to read what I have written - something that I have to do when I’m part of a conversation, whether or not I like it. Responses can take seconds, or they can take ages, and I don’t always have to address them instantly - or at all. That just takes away that whole pressure of time that comes with having a talk with someone. Writing also allows me to be clear with what I’m trying to say. I don’t want my message to get lost in translation or be perceived in a way it’s not intended to be - something that could be true of photography and sketching, or even speeches to a certain degree, personally speaking.
One of the downturns to writing, however, is that it could take forever for me to finish what I start - so long that I would forget about what caused me to write in the first place. (I still have two drafts to finish on this blog.) Sometimes, I keep on writing and writing to the point that I just don’t know how to conclude, so a short reflection paragraph could easily turn into a 3000-word essay before I know it. I get tired just to go through the piece again to make sure what I want to write about is actually the thing I am writing about before calling it a day. And that’s the main reason why I don’t write as often as I want to; I could end up spending more time on writing than I should. (Yeah, this just shows you how ‘fantastic’ I am at time management.)
With all that said, I still find writing to be my most effective way of self-expression (with photography a close second). I might be getting better at being vocal, and at the end of the day, I still write. At least for now.
A friend of mine - she’s a terrific blogger - wrote an opinion piece on Cambodia’s perceptions and corresponding responses (or the lack thereof) towards the expression (public and private) of affection. In a separate occasion, at a farewell gathering of a friend on a Friday night, a conversation was going on about late-night cruising and indecent public acts - in the form of masturbation, for example - and passers-by’s selective ‘out of sight, out of mind’ practice. And then, on another Saturday’s late afternoon, I was talking to a good friend about a professor’s way of teaching his college students on how to show love and respect to their parents - by saying ‘how do you do’ and ‘goodbye, mother/father’ while also doing the sampeah at the same time - on a regular basis. It just struck me after all of this: how do we actually express love towards our loved ones in our society? Does it have to be explicit? Does it have to comply with the cultural norms despite the change of time? How do we define ‘appropriate’?
Some people consider PDA a big ‘No’ in our society because it’s somehow viewed as an encroachment of someone else’s moral privacy. And because Cambodians are supposed to be more on the ‘reserved’ side of things when it comes to cultural appropriateness, those committing PDA are usually considered rebellious, immoral, and disrespectful (of their fellow men and women and of their traditions). But time has changed (maybe faster than some of us want it to), and a lot of young adults nowadays are not too concerned with expressing their intimacy publicly (maybe except kissing) - with disapproving looks of some from the older generation, of course. They tend to be more comfortable with holding hands in public, embracing each other, leaning heads on shoulders, or just simply being physically close. It’s no big deal anymore. (Note: Such cannot be said the same for those in the LGBT community, where PDA remains a major taboo. Heck, sometimes even being gay is a taboo in this society.) Personally, I don’t find anything wrong with PDA IF the pair try to keep it to themselves and not be ‘showy’ about it. Once they start eating each other’s face (longer than they should) in front of me and are oblivious to their surroundings, then please, for the love of God, go get a room. Or the next available bathroom stall. Anyway, I think the Cambodian society is warming up to the idea of PDA now, maybe not because people are explicitly endorsing it but more because they don’t give a finger about it. In either case, be classy and do it responsibly.
How about expressing affection towards, you know, parents, relatives, friends, etc.? When I was in my early teenage years (oh adolescence…), I would always greet my teachers wherever I saw them…WHERE.EVER. I also sometimes did the same towards my parents when I came back from school. Somehow I thought it was a nice thing to do - don’t get me wrong, it’s still is! It’s just that I’ve sort of outgrown that already - and that it wasn’t cringe-worthy at all. Fast forward to today. I’m not sure if it’s ‘cool’ anymore to do what I did back then. (And being cool is all the rage nowadays, so much so that some people would go out of their way, doing whatever they could, to fit in with the cool crowd. This doesn’t always end well, unfortunately.) While the older people would really appreciate seeing kids being all respectful (by that, I mean saying ‘how do you do’ and greeting each other with ‘sampeah’), their younger counterparts could view it as too old-school, un-hip, embarrassing and…corny. Do I blame them for thinking this way? Not necessarily, but that doesn’t mean I let them off the hook, either. I think we all should know our places in the society and act accordingly. Sure, you don’t have to do what I did towards my teachers back in the day, but at the same time you shouldn’t treat them like second-class citizens, either. Yes, our parents can get on our nerves sometimes (or a lot of the time), but that doesn’t grant you a free pass for being a dick towards them. Manners, people, manners.
So, I guess as we become more globalized, cultural appropriateness constantly takes on a new meaning. While the old might disapprove of the “Westernization” of the ways the young express their love, there’s no denying that this trend is not going anywhere anytime soon. The more important question, in my opinion, is how well and how fast can our society adapt to this? Will the older generation become more accepting of the fact that kids today don’t grow up the way kids 10, 20, 30 years ago did? Will the younger generation be able to admit that they are assholes sometimes and that they still need guidance from the elderly before they can spread their wings and fly into the sunset? Well, whether or not they like it, there needs to be a compromise between local traditional norms and emerging lifestyles for these two to co-exist (everyone knows this, I know, but still…). While the elderly can be quiet about the young being all expressive about the way they physically express their intimacy and affection, the young shouldn’t take this for granted and be all in people’s faces, either. As the Budhha said, moderation is key to a happy life. (Man, I’m sounding too philosophical here, so I’mma stop.)
Until moments ago. Well, maybe not technically, but who’s really counting anyway? Despite everything, 2012 was a great year to be 27, for me personally. There was a lot of growing up to do, for one, and the predicted apocalypse didn’t happen, for another. (I just couldn’t help with the dated cliché.) There were trials and errors. There were numerous ups and downs. In fact, some parts of 2012 really tested me like I’d never been challenged before. But hey, at least I’m still here typing away another blog entry.
So, yes, I’m 28 now.
What to look forward to? Hmm…I don’t know. All I know is that I’ll try my best to focus on me and my own journey a bit more this year - becoming more self-centered, in a sense. That does sound like quite a bad thing to say, right? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past years focusing on doing things that I don’t particularly feel passionate about simply because they are either for a greater good or out of a sense of responsibilities. It’s been tiring and not as rewarding as I’d hoped. So that’s why I’m hoping to do more for myself moving forward, looking into things and ideas I’m passionate about, exploring what I’ve personally found intriguing and worthwhile, re-evaluating/re-energizing my goals in life, and doing things that make me happy. I’ve felt lost a lot lately, so maybe it’s time I worked to find my way and figure out what my calling is. This sounds terrifying, but if I am to be able to cherish what I do and to continue living to the fullest against all odds, this must be done. So, in that sense, 2013 is kinda exciting.
There have been a couple of personal project concepts I’ve meant to work on, so maybe 2013 is the time to actualize those mental plans - or at least get things started in a more substantial matter. One of them is to explore my passion for photography and visual arts further. I’ve really been enjoying these areas of my life a lot over the years, so hopefully I’ll be able to use whatever skills I have in these fields to turn ideas into something more worthwhile and fulfilling. I’m looking into having a fully functional photography website by the end of this year actually. The idea of finally having my own website is definitely thrilling! While the initial content of the website will be photography- and visual-arts-related, I also want to expand it further, to cover other things I enjoy doing - things like blogging, motivational speaking, lecturing, traveling, and mapping, to name a few. Turning all these into reality takes time, but hey, at least they’ve gotta start somewhere, and I’m making 2013 the year “it all begins”.
So yeah, I’m excited about being 28. I’m excited about the prospects of my personal journey. I’m excited about making me a better person for myself and those I care about. I’m excited about challenging my weaknesses - for instance, I’ve always been overly self-conscious about my skin, for one, and I can be pretty bad at explaining my feelings and tend to end up sounding like a pathetic, pushy asshole, for another. I guess I’m just excited about having another shot at a fulfilling life.
As Mae West says, “you live only once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”
Some of us knew what we wanted to do even before we reached our 10th birthday party. (Look at those aspiring American Idol contestants, for example. Granted, some of them - well, a lot of them - are not as ‘gifted’ as they might choose to believe.) For many of us, it takes longer, much longer - to dream that ultimate dream and to do whatever it takes to realize it. A lot of the time, we get lost along the way, doubting our rationale and questioning our purpose. There are even times when we dream up a new dream, change our plans, and pursue a different route. So, while quotes like “dream big”, “never give up”, “live your dream”, “chase your dream”, or “go after what you want” are inspiring, they don’t really say anything much, particularly in regards to the scope and amount of work and thinking we have to put into doing what the quotes suggest we do.
Growing up, I used to dream to become a fashion designer and an architect (you can’t blame a kid and his fantasies!) I was never one who wanted to become an astronaut. When I reached my adolescence, my dream changed, though not as much. I just wanted to become an interior designer and a painter. When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. But I guess this is not uncommon for a lot of college kids in general. All I knew was that I had to do well in class because my transcript would mean something. When I was done with college, I wanted to pursue a study outside of the country, so I went after the Fulbright Scholarship. I got it on my second try. While I was in the U.S., I dreamed to become someone involved in socio-communal work - at least as an activist-educator of sort. And here I am, one year and a half after being back to Cambodia, not 100% knowing what next. I’m lost.
It’s definitely scary to be lost, especially at this age - I’m turning 28 in 3 weeks. It’s also trickier to deal with compared to being lost at a much younger age, I guess. I don’t know how to explain it. I can give it a try, though.
As adults, we have more responsibilities - whether we like them or not - to ourselves and those around us. Some of us, myself included, become prone to fulfilling responsibilities towards other people’s wants and needs and focusing less on those towards ourselves. As we grew up, we were conditioned to answer to our society and abide by the social norms. We were taught to maintain our family’s public image at all costs even if that means we have to sacrifice our personal values and beliefs. Sometimes we feel that doing what pays is better than doing what we love simply because, well, it pays. Dreams - whatever they look like or if they exist - are put on hold for the sake of family and society. We probably know that this does not sound right, that it doesn’t have to be this way, that at the end of the day we - and our dreams - matter as much as (if not more than) others and theirs. Yet, here we are, going about our daily lives, wishing each day would end soon so that we could just crawl back into our bed and call it a day.
We’ve been told countless times to think like a kid; that is to say “don’t think too much.” That way, life will be made simpler, and dreams more realizable. Unfortunately, for an adult, over-thinking is innate. It’s an eternal nemesis. And the fact that a lot is going on in an adult’s life isn’t helping much either. And all of this excessive thinking and planning and…everything…can be quite overwhelming, at times clouding our judgments, pushing us off tracks and even destroying our dreams. Can we do something about it? I seriously don’t know. Can we go back and think like a kid? Maybe. But will that be acceptable? Well, that depends. And then the over-thinking, over-analyzing mode is turned on again. And while we are tying to deal with all of this, trying to sort our lives and hold the different pieces together, we tend to let slip the dream piece.
And that is pretty much what I am struggling with at this very moment, trying to find the answer to that simple question of “what do you want to do with your life moving forward?” Thing is, I don’t have an answer right now. I know I will at some point, but not now. I’m not entirely sure what my calling will be, but I have a feeling I will know it in the near future. In the meantime, it’s also a good idea to start focusing more on myself and my life than on others and theirs. I might lose some people along the way, but if that is what needs to be done in the pursuit of my own happiness, then well, so be it. I think I’m OK with that.
P.S.: My apology for any possible inconsistency - in the flow of thoughts and writing - in this post because, well, things are pretty all jumbled in my head.
The full name is actually Chrisandy Charlie Roddivans.
This fictitious name is the combination of three real names, with the middle name added last. I actually forgot about this until recently when I used my flash drive for some file-saving - the drive is named “Roddivans”, of course. And at that moment, I was like ‘Ahhh memories….’
I guess it started back in mid-2000s, give or take. I started to become a big tennis fan then, and Andy Roddick and his style of playing caught my attention. To some extent he was a dark horse on the rise, and that was exciting to follow. And the fact that he wasn’t bad on the eyes played a role, too, I must admit. (Yes, I actually have a few drawings of the guy AND a framed poster as well. My friends Jon and Brendan actually made fun of me about that poster, too, but I’m not ashamed at all. *wink wink*) (I also bought a couple of Andy Roddick’s caps and No Compromise wristbands - oh the wristband fad…) I even started playing tennis and continued to do so for a couple of years until I started working in late 2006. So during that time tennis was a rather big part of my life, and it felt great to actually have someone to root for and defend in tennis chats with my friends - they were all for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, with Novac Djokovic coming into the picture later in the years. I remembered scheduling my own tasks around big live tennis tournaments - at least the four Grand Slams of the year - and staying up late (or waking up early, for that matter) to watch the matches and exchange texts with friends throughout the live competitions. Who thought I was that much into sports, right? I certainly didn’t. But then work life began, and tennis started to take the backseat. It didn’t help, either, that my tennis buddy was leaving the country for the U.S.
Another part of the name is no other than Chris Evans. I’m going to be honest and say that he got my initial attention purely because of his physique in Cellular (with Kim Basinger). I’d never heard about this guy before that. (I was digging out info about him afterward, which was a natural thing to do anyway, and got a hold of his earlier movie ‘Not Another Teen Movie’, which was pretty silly.) I thought he was OK in Cellular - I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing because, well, my taste in movie has changed a lot since then. So yeah, I started looking for more information about him - you know, being a cyber stalker-fan wannabe, or something like that. And then his other movies came out - the Fantastic Four, Sunshine, etc. I guess that was the time I started to become more interested in this guy, not just in his look (that’s a given) but also in his personality. Based on interviews, articles and talk shows with and about him, he definitely strikes me as a genuinely funny, down-to-earth, easy-going guy, on- and off-screen. (Let’s face it, this is just my assumption about his characteristics based on secondary data, so who knows, he could be a horrible individual in person for all I know, but I still highly doubt that. * wink wink*) Surprisingly, however, I haven’t done any sketching and such of the dude, as I did of Andy. I did make some computer wallpapers of him, though - I was getting better at Adobe Photoshop back then as well, so it worked perfectly. There was a moment back in Summer 2010 when I actually had to decide between going to see a date in Providence, Rhode Island, and going to Boston, Massachusetts (my school was an hour away by bus), to try to see Chris in person (at Boston Commons…yes, I had credible sources of information) from afar, of course, while he was filming What’s Your Number with Anna Faris. Pretty crazy, huh? I was like ‘this is probably going to be the only chance I’m ever going to see him in person!’ But I ended up going to Providence instead (my friends kinda helped talk me into that as well, trying to keep me sane and all), which I think was the right decision. (The date when well at the beginning, and then it got awkward at the end. We haven’t been in touch since.)
Now…Charlie. Well, it’s the first name of Charlie David. He’s not in mainstream entertainment industry…I don’t think so. I’m not even sure if he’s still involved in it. I first knew about him when I started to watch the show Dante’s Cove (don’t judge!). The show itself was intriguing to say the least, and there was definitely a lot of skin and intimacy throughout. Anyway, I thought Charlie was charming in that show, so I again started the digging process to learn a bit more about this guy. I saw him in a couple of other movies - A Four-Letter Word was one of them, and I still have yet to watch Mulligan after all these years. I think the highlight of my Charlie David fan craze was when I actually exchanged a couple of messages with him on MySpace - yes, MySpace! I was like, ‘this is so cool! I’m actually receiving texts from him!’ Yes, I was like a schoolgirl then. Who wasn’t, anyway, right?
So, because I was bored out of my mind one day, I decided to come up with a mission for myself: combine the three names together as a reminder of my exciting fan years. haha. It proved a bit more challenging than I thought, actually, but I managed to have one eventually: Chrisandy Roddivans (with Chris and Andy’s names together). I didn’t know how to integrate Charlie David into that name without making it ridiculously long…or just plain ridiculous (more so that it already seemed like). So, I just added Charlie as a middle name, and tada!
I haven’t followed news and updates about Charlie for years now, and I’m not a big tennis fan anymore. I’ve heard that Andy has already retired? I don’t know. I don’t follow tennis news as much. I’m still a big fan of Chris, however, and still hope to meet the guy (not just see him) one day. Fingers crossed!
To close, I know this could seem trivial to a lot of people - the same way I find some other people’s devotion to specific figures silly - but I think it’s safe to say that at one point in our life, it feels awesome to be a fan of something or something, to be able to go all batshit silly and enjoy every moment of it. Not many people have this luxury to enjoy, so I just feel lucky that I at least got to live those moments as I grew up. I thought it was an exciting part of my life, and I’m thankful for that. It wasn’t childhood, sure, but it felt like one.