‘So you’re stuck?’

‘Stuck is… well stuck isn’t quite the word…’

‘You can’t leave?’

‘I mean, I can. But it will cost $2,000 to deal with the hassle of it, I’ve been told. And sitting in hotels for two weeks in Phnom Penh? And what would I do once I got back there, anyway? I’ve been trying to find a new place to set up for a few years now. Went to Latvia to think about moving there, for example. Something different. Something new.’

‘Mmm. What do you do for work?’

‘I’m a writer.’

‘Ohhhhhh! A writer.’


I do a bit of writing….’


‘I write stuff!…’


‘I like writing. I can send you something.’

‘Good. No, don’t.’

‘Writing… Yeah! It’s my creative outlet.’




‘Do you like writing?’

‘It’s my life.’


Reality & Trust, Chapter 1 | ‘Homesickness’

Today I’m going to continue some ongoing work to edit and collate the book, Reality & Trust, so as to be able to ready it for a proper release soon. Looking at February. (Here’s a link. http://gumroad.com/kismuth)

Maybe you were curious what the impetus for this book was? If you read Kismuth and are interested, I can share a few things that have led up to the decision to publish my stories in a new e-anthology. You can ask me about that. But please note that I’m only really talking to people who are members of my e-community, these days, at Kismuth, which includes the online projects outlined here.

I’ve had to filter a lot; something that happens when you… [deleted] and continuously meet new people. You know, I don’t have fb or really many other social media accounts and I only talk to three people now on Zoom and three on a service that’s popular in Vietnam that’s called Zalo. It’s nice because Facebook doesn’t own it. Cool, right? They can’t read my messages, and tell me what they think I should buy. I detest FB. So yeah. Why so few channels and contacts? Well! I’d rather have 2 or 6 contacts I know I can count on than 4,253 or even millions like the celebrities I’ve read about who off themselves because they’re so lonely…. [deleted] wherever I go in the world. I wrote a little about that in this week’s issue of S P A C E, ‘Sneeze.’ Check it out here.


Gosh. There is so much to say. I feel like R&T is a big wave that’s come ashore after several small waves. Namely, the books I’ve already written. They feel like a miniature collection, articulating themes that somehow have prepared me, mentally, for this one. The topic is so universally relevant, now, too. I’m even thinking about reopening and re-starting my old Kindle account, for this book. I hate Amazon.

But I did manage to sell things there. Of course I resented being classified as they chose to classify me, irritating because of many reasons. Still, R&T is asking important questions in this internet and erstwhile bizarre-in-other-ways era.

How do you know what’s real, and what isn’t? Who can you trust, like really trust, and what are the factors that build trust (or break it?)

When you grow up in a household that doesn’t value emotional needs or, worse, has deeply damaged your capacity to develop healthy and warm relationships (and so many of us know what this is like to grow up with, I’m finding!), how do you find your way in the middle of uncertainty and other hard situations that life throws at you?

I’m not sure.

No one can be.

We all have to find our way, after all.

But I want to write this to share my own journey. Coping, here, where I am. In ten months’ and counting, with no end in sight. Homesick, a lot of that, lately, and retreating more than usual because it’s… [deleted].

But there were books that help me understand hard situations, before. For example, these.

In The Dive, I wrote about my choice to end a much-wanted pregnancy, due to a diagnosis that came out at 20 weeks. I mean, looking back, it was one of those moments where you had to simply exist with the difficulty of the very fact of it. Much like currently: in the pandemic I’m in a place that is far from the many homes I know (southwest Ireland, northern India, a mid-size town somewhere cool in Japan, and of course Phnom Penh which is where my nearest and dearest are. I guess there’s also North Carolina, in an estranged, distant way, something I’ve been coming to terms with where I am: Vietnam.) Do I have a home here?

[deleted] I’m lucky, that way.

In Kanishka, I talked about the loss of my childhood best friend. The name of the book is the name of the plane that a terrorist group had placed a bomb on, way back in 1985. Without the gentle nurturing of a battered reality that can come in that moment, when you have people taking care of you who know that this is important, I had to write my way out out of the confusion. The book I published, Kanishka, ran as a serial for a magazine in Northern India, and also, helped me come to understand that misunderstood realities and lack of dialogue led to Operation Blue Star which many people wrote had precipitated the retaliatory attack. Who knows what really happened; people in India I had interviewed and wanted to stay off record gave me other angles, other considerations. All of that is factored in to the writing of the book, of course, and I’m at peace with the things that I uncovered.

Writing my way out of the difficult moment of finding myself fighting, as a newlywed, in southwest Ireland, but also, discovering the enchantment of a culture in which people love to talk, tell stories, and share in selective ways (pubs, unlike in Scandinavia, the pubs are a place for people to engage meaningfully, culturally, casually… In Denmark and Finland and Sweden I found there were more like, bars, and stuff, in which people just get hammered and throw up all over the place on Fridays and Saturdays instead of just culturally hang out and talk, a little bit at a time, over time). So yeah. Ireland helped me understand the value I place now so dearly on ‘conversation’ and ‘The Third Space.’

Where can you talk about things if you don’t have a place that feels comfortable, and safe, and nonjudgmental, and that you know you can go back to, whenever you need to talk?

Harder and harder to find this, in real life now, in 2021. I’d written The Elopement based off of experiences pre-internet, really, around 2001-2. So yeah.




Here’s what I’m learning about Homesickness today…

Source: Wikipedia

Risk factors

The risk factors for homesickness fall into five categories: experience, personality, family, attitude and environment.[2]More is known about some of these factors in adults—especially personality factors—because more homesickness research has been performed with older populations.[19] However, a growing body of research is elucidating the etiology of homesickness in younger populations, including children at summer camp,[3][4] hospitalized children[18]and students.[9]

  • Experience factors: Younger age; little previous experience away from home (for which age can be a proxy); little or no previous experience in the novel environment; little or no previous experience venturing out without primary caregivers.
  • Attitude factors: The belief that homesickness will be strong; negative first impressions and low expectations for the new environment; perceived absence of social support; high perceived demands (e.g., on academic, vocational or sports performance); great perceived distance from home
  • Personality factors: Insecure attachment relationship with primary caregivers; low perceived control over the timing and nature of the separation from home; anxious or depressed feelings in the months prior to the separation; low self-directedness; high harm avoidance; rigidity; a wishful-thinking coping style.
  • Family factors: decision control (e.g., caregivers forcing young children to spend time away from home against their wishes);

Protective factors

Factors which mitigate the prevalence or intensity of homesickness are essentially the inverse of the risk factors cited above. Effective coping (reviewed in the following section) also diminishes the intensity of homesickness over time. Prior to a separation, however, key protective factors can be identified. Positive adjustment to separation from home is generally associated with the following factors:[citation needed]

  • Experience factors: Older age; substantial previous experience away from home (for which age can be a proxy); previous experience in the novel environment; previous experience venturing out without primary caregivers.
  • Attitude factors: The belief that homesickness will be mild; positive first impressions and high expectations for the new environment; perceptions of social support; low perceived demands (e.g., on academic or vocational performance); short perceived distance from home
  • Personality factors: Secure attachment relationship with primary caregivers; high perceived control over the timing and nature of the separation from home; good mental health in the months prior to the separation; high self-directedness; adventure-seeking; flexibility; an instrumental coping style.
  • Family factors: High decision control (e.g., caregivers including a young person in the decision to spend time away from home); individuals making their own choice about military service; supportive caregiving; caregivers who express confidence and optimism about the separation (e.g., “Have a great time away. I know you’ll do great.”)
  • Environmental factors: Low cultural contrast (e.g., same language, similar customs, familiar food in the new environment); physical and emotional safety; few changes to familiar daily schedule; plenty of information about the new place prior to relocation; feeling welcome and accepted in the new place.

#111 Empathy

I have been reading this, today.


This is the part about empathy:

5. There’s mutual empathy. Another key quality of a healthy relationship is empathy. Empathy means trying to understand what your partner is feeling. It isn’t about trying to fix your partner’s concerns and problems, necessarily, but about being able to be there for them. If you can pay more attention to what’s going on with your partner and strive to see things through their eyes, you will find yourself getting closer over time rather than more distant.

#110 Joy

What is joy? 
Checked out some internet stuff to learn more about this emotion.
Joy, according to Merriam-Webster online, is the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety
a state of happiness or felicity : bliss
a source or cause of delight
What are your joys? 


The things in Papers, which began in May, are still happening. It’s getting good, now. This is what it is when you spend time on a thing: quality begins to feel like quality does. Comfortable. Relaxing into writing, together, here we are.

Another circle *could* happen in October, if we discover just the right mix of guests to take part in a four-way circle. Asynchronous and international, the dialogues deepen as we quest, together, into hosted, prompt-led conversations that I love.

A password protected overview is at this page; application required. To apply, go here.

Papers, an invitation for just 4

‘How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress:’ N. Bohr, quantum physicist

When DK’s A. Spaice popped around in real life to the N. Bohr Institute in Copenhagen in 2015, we found out something really amazing. It started with poking around here and there. Bohr, a philosopher-scientist, had a library on that site. Of course us being us, we wandered into it. And learned that N. Bohr, ever the thinker and open to new inputs all the time (which of course was the ethos behind the institute itself, and why we were even there), had something cool going.

He had 400 people with whom he would correspond, in letters. Apparently some of them were in the archives at the NBI. DK was impressed by this and moved to try something, but with a twist: a modern update, using the technologies at hand. Also, a wider scope for corresponders. You wouldn’t have to be a scientist, or an expert. The more of a mix, the better. Also, we can manage about 1% of what Bohr could, around here, so we are limiting our correpsondence circle to a maximum of 4. In ‘Papers.’

Here’s what it is. Given today’s world of frittered and inane chatter, Bohr’s way of connecting and deepening correspondences of substance and value seemed a good method to highlight, and, to apply.

What is Papers?

An online writing-and-design-and-generally-creative circle for community. Ambient community that is. International and asynchronous: ‘Papers.’


Because we are tired of superficial, inane chatter and want some actual depth, progression and substance in our online converations. That’s why.

Six weeks of amazing online conversations with a max of 4 hosted by the unconventional and unexpected remarkable improvisationalists at DK

How does it work ?

It’s 100% email correspondence. No meetings. Fresh prompts arrive once a week and are written based on application inputs & emerging topics.

They are written personally by DK’s Dipika Kohli, who designs and hosts this jam. More about Papers is here.

What people have said, about DK’s works…

  • ‘Refreshingly honest’, guest of ‘N’ Phnom Penh, 2014
  • ‘Astonishing!’, guest of The Mirror, online workshop, 2018
  • ‘Weird and intriguing’, guest of Hello August, Phnom Penh, 2014



I wrote about this week’s coming-up issue of S P A C E over at DK, and thought hard about what the idea of it is, why I wanted to write it, and what it means—to me, but also, to others, or at least, my understanding of what my own writing can do to illuminate a bit of one corner of one place for those who are in yet other places. Snapshot-like, and instantaneous, but in a more drawn-out way than something that is simply, presto!, cut and pasted, without taking the time to get to know a thing or person or place or style or even a language… more about that sometime… in general, my problem with most of what I read or find on the internet or in real life or on telly or on youtube is the great disappointment in seeing that things are shoved together quickly and with ‘impressive graphics’ or ‘fx’ or whatever. Generally, for me, I feel, and I might blame the Millenials for this, [deleted]… and so I hate the show they run. It lacks depth. I mean, like quality. Quality with a capital Q, like. Where is the quality, Gen Y? [deleted]

More to say, but I will save it for another time, where I feel like sharing and talking and exchanging in a way that I feel has quality—I’ve spent years looking at how to design the right space for that to *happen*, and that’s why I feel like I can talk about it now, more and more, and even more. I’m happy about this. I’ve learned a lot, all these years, and these days I get to apply what I know, in short ‘minitheaters’ and sometimes online salons. Kind of enjoying it all.

Meantime, let me get Issue #86 together.

For now, here’s a post about it, at DK: this is a link… read more about Issue #86.


A lovely sunny day / Một ngày nắng đẹp

I will try. To write the things. Straight up, without the abstraction that I usually put into these notes. Because it’s simplifying it: just telling a story, as it is, without getting lost in the mindscapes and instead focusing on the actual being there part.

The look and feel; the moment’s quintessences. There are multiple ones. As if, there are instances of it, and levels, and layers, too.

But wait. This is the reflection bit that I said I would leave to the side, and get to plot and stuff, just write the daily stories, here, where I am. In Vietnam. So. Let me back up, and talk about the story as it started, when it did, three days ago. Three, only just three. My, a world can open, in the space of 72 hours.

I’ll put the feelings together, the new covid cases and the news of those and how it’s been playing out, here. Another chapter for EotR, which is set in this place where I am since it rains nicely, often, and that reminds me of West Cork.

So, it begins.

A new start.


Picture it.

A lovely sunny day… Một ngày nắng đẹp


And finding yourself in the world… Tìm mình trong thế giới

These are the things. Themes. Along with of course illusions, which relate quite tidily with the premise of EotR.


I’ll share the local stories that are coming into shape in a new fashion very soon, with V. Who has inspired these new beginnings. I started again, today, in a new vein and I think… it’s rather sprightly. This is different. This is new. All kinds of amazing things are starting to uncalculate, and it’s okay if they don’t make an equation again, because maybe there just aren’t any rigid ‘fixed’ quantities, anyway, and you just have to be okay with ‘uncertainty’ in the cloud, if that’s where you are, and I think… sometimes that’s where I am, but also, I forgot, I’m here, too.

More soon, on email…



Image: Olia Gozha