Soap Box #5: A Homage To All Those Beautiful Souls From My Past, Present & Future

Updated: May 26

A Living Eulogy

*Please note: I plan to share an audio version of this particular post soon, which will include some Easter Eggs and extra info. However, I am yet to perfect a good version, as I've been coping with a rather nasty cold lately (no, not the Coof, just in case you might be wondering, although it is somewhat morbidly fascinating to watch others' reactions when I cough or sneeze in public, admittedly, mea culpa. They visibly look at though they are about to run and dive for cover, lol). I have also invested in a pretty decent mike (as in microphone, not our Mike, Rose, lol!) from my wonderful friends at Dalat Laptop, so, hopefully this will improve the sound quality of a recording. I would really like to get it just right - that is my inner-nerd and perfectionist revealed – right off-the-bat, no less!

Just two other minor disclaimers before we officially get started: I have *Squirrel* Syndrome, yup, it's a thing. For those of you who may not be familiar with this particular reference, it basically means I tend to get distracted with my original train of thought, to follow a loosely-related different tack. Having said this, in as far as possible, I always try to steer back on track. It's just how my brain works. For more info on *squirrels*, follow this link to Soap Box #4: A Collection Of My Favourite Music & Music Videos.

This, brings me to the next point and last relatively minor disclaimer: you may encounter obscure references and seemingly nonsensical sentences, this is to be expected and has been anticipated by your author, c'est moi. I would, however, (insert one of Mr. Nigel Norman's infamous Pregnant Pauses) highly recommend you familiarize yourself with this particular reference, namely, *squirrel*, as it is frequently used throughout my writing.

Yes, of course, you as your beautiful, unique self, may, in fact, not follow my exact train of thought or get certain references, like *squirrel!* from time to time. That's OK, in as far as possible, I have tried to add URL links (the fonts which are in blue, Gran) to save you from the inevitable Googling, or in my case, DuckDuckGo-ing, that may result. Yup, Teacher Di: guilty as charged. Just, pretty please, make sure you come back to finish reading this article, OK?

I will, however, gladly help guide people, to gain a better understanding, should they require clarification – there's absolutely no shame in being humble enough to say we don't understand a concept, reference or idea. Why do you think Google is the top ranking and most visited website ever and has held this position for 10+ years? We all want to know dumb shit (sorry, Mom Wendy) sometimes, and we are, collectively, perhaps, too lazy, apathetic or embarrassed to ask our elders or those in the know. Shout out to the Boomers out there, said tongue-in-cheek, "Like, soooo last year: the phrase 'Boomers'. Tsssk", eye roll, hair flip followed by a swift heel swirl. I say the following with absolutely no facetious, nasty or sarcastic undertones nor ill-intentions, whatsoever: I value ye old folk of yonder, year. Some of you may smell a tad peculiar from time to time, but putting that aside, most of you definitely and undeniably, have much value to offer us, precocious and often arrogant, younger generations. I'll hearken back to my Grab-a-Granny/-Grandad project in a later post – I'll update this post when and if it has been thought through thoroughly (how's that for a tongue-twister, eh?) and ready for publication. Pin this for now, Mom, if you're reading this, and should your memory be better than mine, please remind me!

However, I digress *squirrel*... Right, so getting back to what I was initially saying regarding the audio recording – I hope you, dear reader, will take a couple minutes of your time to read this written version. This written version has proven itself to be a true labour of love, and has taken several drafts to complete (with a little help, encouragement and support from my beloved friends, shout out to them below), and to perfect (the verb, not the adjective, stress on the second syllable, lol – Teacher Di hardly ever switches off). Even though I know few things in life can be perfect (the adjective, not the verb, stress on the first syllable, lol).

Life is filled with wonder, and there are many things that exhibit perfection – flowers, puppies, nature in general, for example, but I digress... *squirrel* brain... To the non-Grammar Nerds, don't worry, I will try to limit my 'inner Grammar Nerd to the former remarks, as well as my *squirreling* from this paragraph onward, I promise!

Quick aside: call it genes, force of habit, plain snobbishness, or what-have-you, I just feel a compulsion to fix incorrect grandma (hahaha, silly word play – many Americans pronounce grammar the same way as grandma. "How's your grammar?" "She's fine, thanks." Couldn't resist adding this – Robert?! Just teasing, and duh, no, not of the strip sort, lol! Should you be reading this, Thanh: I say this completely tongue-in-cheek, oh gawd, poor choice of phrase. (Seriously, Robert, mind out of the gutter, mate!) *Sigh*, I can just see the wave coming, so... Yeah, yeah, OK, mate, bring on the barrage of puns and witty quips, if you do so wish, I know your trolling mind is practically itching to do so, prove me wrong lol...

Er... To pretty much everyone else who may read this, meet my ex-boss/ex-'work hubby', Robert, who has subsequently become a good mate, and is an avid grower of Shiitake, Oyster and other exotic and fascinating varietals of mushrooms. Based here in the heart of the Vietnamese highlands, in the beautiful city of Dalat, Vietnam, L'Vien Farm is a family-run business and all their mushrooms are farm-grown, as opposed to mass factory-produced.

If you do so wish, feel free to send any inquiries Robert and Thanh's way. I can honestly plug this, because they were my bosses for 5+ years, and have always been amazing, both professionally and personally. Plus, who can't but love the magic and wonder of fungi? Find their Facebook page here.

Oi! You owe me a beer for this gratis plug, and advertising, Robert, mate, lol!

A massive South African sigh of 'eish'. Now, just hang on just South African 'moment' (which could be virtually anything from 'now', 'just now' or 'now now - all time references that basically mean the same thing - depending on the speaker and their mood, but can generally be described as, "OK, I'll get round to it when I get round to it, now please stop bothering me," essentially. Synonyms may include: 'shortly', 'soon', 'later'. Bottom line: 'now now' does not exactly mean 'right now' but more accurately means 'soonish'. 'Just now' does not refer to something that has just happened, but translates to 'later'. 'Now' means 'now', however it could be anything that could be from the exact moment it was said, but it could extend be a couple of weeks or months later. However, these expressions can be used interchangeably. Moral of the story: if you hear us use any of these time references, make sure you set a definite deadline, but be prepared to accept that some of us may not necessarily adhere to it, lol.

Get it? If not, don't worry, most of us Saffers don't either, lol. Back to the eish – I was born there (SA), so this certainly isn't cultural re-appropriation, good grief, why do I even feel the need to say this? Oh, ja... I certainly don't want that on my case (referring to all the über-PC Thought Police). No, I unapologetically take a stand – saying, wearing and doing stuff from other cultures that are not necessarily 'in you lane', is and are not culturally-insensitive (*depending on context, and intention, of course).

Our dear matriarch and my personal super-hero Mom had wise words to share when I used to get annoyed with my little sister copying me when we were wee ones: "Imitation in the sincerest form of flattery." Mom Wendy, I'll email a copy of this post to you. Bless, she's on FB, but forgot her password, and still sends messages via her phone without predictive text. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love, respect and adore this Boomer, but, seriously, c'mon! BTW, familia, I will be dedicating a separate post to you awesome people at a later stage, for I deemed it necessary to dedicate a post purely to you.

Now, the whole blackface thing... yeah... the jury is still out on that one, but truth-be-told, I'm leaning more towards the side of seeing it as social tone-deafness, at best. It's not ALL oppressive - racist, patriarchal or LBGTQ-xyz-phobic - folks, despite what some of you and yours might to have been led to believe *Bubble*Pop*. It's certainly not because I am insensitive or blind to these points of view, one would have to have been living under a rock not to have had this hurled at you all the damn time, and quite frankly I am sick of it, and I stand by my words.

Feel free to point out any grammar and/or spelling errors you may encounter along the way whilst reading my ramblings. So, if at any time, you feel I've misspelt or used incorrect grammatical structures, feel free to bring my attention to it... I welcome constructive criticism... plus – I dare you! I've proofread this particular piece so many times, I could practically gauge my eyes out with a blunt, rusty knife.

The following gallery, perhaps 'schadenfreude'??

Right, so on with it, and getting to the chief purpose of this blog:

One of many deeply personal life goals of mine is to sing praises and give credit where credit is due, to as many people as I can, while they are still alive, and to let them know how much they are truly valued. This has recently become far clearer to me over the past few months and has inspired me to actually pen some of these thoughts of mine, in what aims to be an enjoyable, coherent, and articulate read. (Quick aside: I am still in two minds about that Oxford Comma, lol... What do you think? Just in case my non-ESL teachers and fellow non-Grammar Nerds don't know what I'm referring to, see example to the above-left).

Sharing my writing publicly, is to me, venturing out into uncharted territory, so to speak, as I have rarely shared these inner-most thoughts so publicly before, but have been told I have a way with words and language, and it would be a shame not to share. However, you be the judge.

Minor disclaimer: if you're 'triggered' or easily 'offended', you'd probably be better off reading something else. You have the agency and power of making this decision. It's not that I hate criticism, I absolutely welcome constructive criticism. It's just that I have little time for petty crap and trolling, both of which, pretty much help to destroy my view of humanity's future, at times, So, either engage me in meaningful, thoughtful discourse and debate, or, well, basically piss off and go read something else. Do (no, not my dear Khoa, whom I've apparently, relentlessly been nagging to upgrade our slugglish Internet connection. Sorry, my brother Do, I know I agreed to only nagging every three days, but I couldn't resist putting it in writing :) ... Do (as in the auxiliary and irregular verb) keep in mind, I was the so-called chairman on my high school debating society and adore a good debate, lol, in truth: we were terrible. I did, however, attend Toast Masters, and, without sounding too self-congratulatory, would like to think kicked ass!

This piece of writing is intended for the adults in the room, and if you can't behave in a meaningful and contributive manner, you may not and have not earned the right to sit at this table and have no place here.

These inner murmurs, in part, have been inspired by one of my oldest, and dearest friends, Mel, a person who has played an instrumental role in, amongst many other things, helped save me from falling too far into my occasional left-leaning/bleeding-heart tendencies, or falling into abysses of darkness, and who has, inadvertently or not, helped centre me. Purely with her sheer strength of spirit, occasionally coupled with her lack of willing to placate and tolerate my occasional BS, paired with a healthy dose of pragmatism, and always seasoned with love, compassion and honesty. Should a Zombie Apocalypse ever become a reality, she is certainly the kind of person I want on my team!

Jesting aside, she’s the closest thing I’ve had to a fourth sister, and even though it is said that blood is thicker than water, it’s the water that is essential for life to continue, and dare I venture to say, inshallah (إِنْشَاءَٱللَّٰهُ‎, Arabic for ‘God willing’), ultimately to thrive.

To the all the other Sexy Salmon, you know who you are ;) - Van & Tanya, -where's our Ogg? *squi...* yeah, yeah, you get the gist, I certainly don't intend to exclude you wonderful souls in the mix, particularly as of late. It would be remiss of me not to give you two a shout out, as well! You ladies are amazing, truly we do, however miss our Andy, if and when he cares to joins us? The alive one, of the Burns varietal, not the much beloved and missed Ceronio!

Latest update: he has dared to join us, yay! And is officially now part of our Sexy Salmon Telegram group aka, my oldest nearest and dearest mates for 25+ years :)

It makes my day so much brighter when I hear from all of yous! Plus, I would, without hesitation, most definitely want you on my anti-Zombie Apocalypse team, no doubt! I love you guys with all my heart, and my life would certainly not be and feel as textured and full without you in it. Phew, OK, put the mush aside, Di, FFS... but hey, this is, after all, a Living Eulogy to all my loves, so I can cry, and laugh, and celebrate peeps... Occasionally I dis them (ja, those Radical Honesty demons creep out from time-to-time), but, no, this is intended to mainly celebrate them! These awesome treasures I've had the privilege and honour of encountering over the years, that is to say, not 'dem nasties'...

So, without too much fanfare and further ado, it is with great joy and pride that I’ve been inspired to launch a Living Eulogy anthology – inspired by all those beautiful souls from my past, present and future. It most definitely ought not to be viewed as some or other morbid fantasy from the darkest recesses of my mind, nor is it a fixation with death and dying. Quite to the contrary. It is an acknowledgement and a celebration these 'teachers' (i.e family, friends and actual teachers) of mine – who've played both big and small roles in my life. It's dedicated to those who’ve brought joy and sorrow to my life in equal measure. Through carefully thought-out prose woven carefully through the, sometimes chaotic, landscape of my mind, I pay homage to you all.

I guess some of the inspiration for writing this, stems from someone who certainly brought about more pain and sorrow, than joy and beauty. The latter, of which, in retrospect and after some deep, soul-searching and gut-wrenching examination and introspection, were finally understood and appreciated for the gift and teacher they were. "Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional - Haruki Murakami", right? If I may be so bold, I'd like to alter this quote slightly and say suffering is a choice, not just a mere option. Sure, the words 'choice' and 'option' are indeed synonyms, but choice just reads better, to my mind. I'll pin the former comment as yet another potential post for another time, perhaps.

It's a tad telling, and perhaps testament to this particular afore-mentioned individual's character, that I was the only one of my sisters who agreed to read and write an actual eulogy for him, and my sisters are among the least vindictive and the most gentle-mannered people I know. So, in lieu of my relentless pursuit for authenticity (Radical Honesty), I paraphrased a quotation attributed to Woody Allen (even though I think he's a super-creep, I do love this quotation - see below). Plus, said person I am speaking about would have had a chuckle or two at my choice of quotations, had he been present and alive to do so, but alas, it 'twas his funeral and his eulogy.

In writing this eulogy, I tried my mightiest to show diplomacy, while still trying to find a middle-ground of being real, but also, and out of respect and love for my mother and brother, had to remove all the references to alcohol. Those of you who are are super-near and dear to me, will totally get why. Sure, of course I gave credit where I thought credit was due in the eulogy I shared at his funeral. He wasn't the devil incarnate, he was really just a sad, lost soul, a man trapped in a 10 year old eternal state, and I only wish him everything of the best, wherever he may be right now, and I have forgiven him.

And to him: sorry for one of the biggest retorts and insults I've ever uttered to anyone in my life, so many years ago... "The best part of you ran down your mother's leg." Eish, I have no idea where that, er... came... from... Forgive the dreadful pun... Should you be offended by this word play and innuendo, piss off and go read something else, nobody is forcing you to read this! Sorry, I am just so sick and tired of the constant barrage of folks 'taking offence' to literally everything and anything. Can the adults in the room please stand up? Forgive the mini-rant. Here be the Woody Allen quote, as promised:

I would, however, like to give a massive shout out to the many male figures in my life who have been wonderful role models, including our Andy Ceronio, Uncles Alan, Chris, Roben, plus many others, in big ways and small!

These thoughts are also inspired, in part, by the third anniversary of the passing of a very special and unique soul, Matthew, our Raven, who thought he was doing everyone a solid by auto-removing himself from this earthly realm, way too early. Yeah, I won’t lie; I was initially so pissed at him deciding to kill himself, but soon realized that he was probably in such a dark and broken place that he chose agency over the one thing he had complete autonomy over; his own life, and well, ultimately, his own death.

One positive thing his death brought about was that he drew some of us together again, folks I haven’t heard from in a while and had been out of touch with for several years, started popping out of the woodwork and all of a sudden reappeared and in my life. He gave us a reason to congregate, albeit to collectively mourn his passing. Our Raven would have loved to know that he was the main reason we reconvened and started communicating with one another again, just like the good old days back in my living room at my house in Obs. So, big love to this group of very special souls, it has been so amazing to hear from you all again: DB, PM, FN, NH, CH, TS, MJ, TR, ALS, CDB, my apologies if I have neglected to mention any one, and guys, remember to send me a DM regarding contributions to a monthly podcast.

Authoring this 'figurative lobotomy' is also my attempt to make lemonade and to keep focused, productive and constructive, during what could be collectively viewed as particularly trying times, to say the very least. It’s my attempt to express myself as honestly and creatively as I can and not to become a bottom-feeding ‘schloemf’ (I don’t even know if that’s a word, but it just sounds cool…. ‘schloemf’ (n.) /ʃl'ʊmf/ = a sluggish, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal-esk entity of sorts… I would imagine… lol!)

With regard to the cartoon above, and to preempt retaliation from any potential trolls who want to take me to task on my current stance on the 'global warming' vs. 'climate change' vs. 'climate change/global warming denial' debate; I'll throw a bone, nay, two bones for you to masticate on, should you do so wish: viz Bone #1: viewing it purely from a language perspective alone, why the re-branding...? Yes, language has power! Bone #2: Have you investigated who benefits monetarily and who gains more power and influence, should this all of this, be, in fact, caused by us (the actual scientific term escapes me, for now). Follow the money, baby... money talks and bullshit walks. Yet again, putting a pin on this hot button topic, for now :)

This writing is also in relentless pursuit of not succumbing to the resounding negativity and feelings of self-loathing and self-doubt, and to remain true to some of the tenants that speak to the core of my very being, and, as naїve as it may seem, these voices still gently whisper this reminder:

“Leave the world a better, brighter place than you were born into.”

No, this is most definitely not virtue-signaling, I have very little patience and tolerance for such hypocrisy. Perhaps this writing could be deemed a slight vanity project, if the adage: