October 9, 2010

Rediscovering Joy

 Isn't Fall the most wonderful season? I'd forgotten how wonderful it was until coming back; Fall in China is about a week of nice weather and the disappearance of all the leaves. In Canada, it's so very different. It gets cold, but not cold enough to merit the full winter kit. The leaves turn, the air grows crisp . . . there's possibility and anticipation in the air. How can you not be in love will all of this?

But apart from a rediscovered love of fall (there's no way I didn't love it when I was little . . .er), I've also remembered how much I love RAKs.
If you don't know what RAKs are, you're either the modern grinch or you're knowledge of acronyms is lacking. In the second case,  RAKs are Random Acts of Kindness, things that reflect back on you, give you very, very good Karma. This list isn't nessecarily all random, but they did make me feel pretty awesome:
  1. Allowing H to write all over my hands for a photo shoot he's doing
  2. Running L's passport down to her when she forgot it at the bus station an hour before her it was supposed to leave
  3. Buying local produce at the best farmer's market ever
  4. Making cookies and letting everyone else eat them
  5. Mediating a debate between L and E that lasted until 3 AM 
  6. Smiling at random little kids, thereby making them smile
  7. Asking my TA about his exam last week
  8. (I'm determined to make it to number 10) volunteering in a drinking game to make enough people
  9. Telling H that no, he doesn't have AIDS, and therefore won't die
  10. Free hugs to anyone who reaches!

Have you done any Acts of Kindness recently?

(All the pictures are my own, and so just looking at them makes me happy)



October 7, 2010

Rumis

One day your heart
Will take you to your lover.
One day your soul
Will carry you to the Beloved.
Don't get lost in your pain,
Know that one day 
Your pain will become your cure.

October 2, 2010

The Difference Between Guys and Girls (Uni Style)

So I live in a co-ed house. On one side I have a Chinese guy and on the other I have a French Canadian girl. In a conversation with two of my favourite people in the house ( American guy, but practically Swedish and Jersey girl from Russia), the question came up, what why is it that a girl who sleeps around is a slut (negative), and guy doing the same is a playa' (positive)? 

Here is the answer my Swedish friend gave. Being in university, it's quite naturally a metaphor: 
Think about it this way: If a lock can be opened by many keys, it's a bad lock. But if a key can open many locks, it's a master key.
Any thoughts on this? Anyone? 

Nats 

September 3, 2010

TIMBIT!



Today I bring you . . . a quote that is very important. . . for myself and to lots of other people.

Sometimes one can't do what one thinks is right without making someone else unhappy.
- W. Somerset Maugham

August 27, 2010

Punctuality

Courtesy is often taken for granted. Especially by those of us who grew up with Canadian parents, courtesy comes naturally (or at least it seems that way). It's gotten to the point where if someone doesn't say thank you when I hold the door open I'm quite shocked.

But no where am I more anal (as has often been said) as when it comes to punctuality. I am very rarely late for anything, and so I expect the same of my friends or others. My friend A is always late... for everything. Church, school, work, a shopping trip. . . it drives me up the wall.

So today I had to take a placement test to take French this year, and the test was supposed to start at 10 AM, with a second one in the afternoon. In the interests of being on time, I get there at 9:30, to find a rather long line ( I was number 135, and there were at least 200 after). That was expected, and I start talking to my neighbours. 10 o'clock rolls around, and there's no movement. 10:15, nothing. 10:30, nothing. At 10:45, the line finally begins to move, and twenty people before me we're told to simply come back for the afternoon test. This test was due to end at 11:15, and they couldn't start on time? I had plans! I was going to go to work right after and get a head start on the whole day! Instead I had to go to work, do a bit, come back, take the test, and then go back to work. I can get that it's stressfull, but it's not like having that many people was unexpected! It just annoys me that because they couldn't organise themselves, I had to waste most of my day, when I was on time! Like Charles Dickens said;

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time.

And who doesn't want to be like good old Charles?

Anyways, I didn't do as badly as I expected, so that's a plus.


Nats

August 24, 2010

Cheers

So yesterday was our 'Rez Fest,' that time when all the residences get together and try to form bonds through friendly competition. But why then, do almost all cheers one is forced to learn the lyrics and moves to have some reference to drugs/drinking and/or a hip thrust? Seriously, is that all we got?
Needless to say, we won despite being the smallest, but was that the reason for so brazenly showing our fellow clasmates our sexual prowess? To appear bigger? Because one of the residences did keep saying size does matter . . .
But I also have to admit that our house was one of the most conservative. I swear most of the incoming engineering students live with us, as well as all the nerds and those with interesting stories. References to alcohol could very well be lost on us, and certainly me.
Anyways, a little bit of school sprit for you.

Nats

August 22, 2010

TIMBIT!

It's Timbit time! Geez I love thi s place, even if they've start ed seriously sugar coating everything.

Sorry, to the dough!

Did you know that according to suicide statistics, Monday is the favored day? Certainly gives new meaning to that song who's name I don't know, but goes "just another manic Monday!"

Good old Norman . . . or Bái Qiúēn
The three best-known western names in China: Jesus Christ, Richard Nixon, and Elvis Presley (apparently . . . Which I find really strange, because I was never called Jesus, Richard or Elvis when I was there. But everyone knew Norman Bethune (Canadian doctor who worked with the People's Liberation Army).

Apparently when you have a long narrow room which runs along an outside wall, Canadian architects can't seem to see the logic in putting more than one window it larger than two feet across! Architects and Engineers are the most demanding faculties? Geez. seems to me that they graduated in Korea.

Nats

ReBoot

I know, I know, I've been dreadful. I could, like other bloggers blame it on the summer heat, when responsibilities are set free like birds in Myanmar, but just like those birds, they always find their way back to their owners. It's been 30 degrees for the last year for me, so that excuse is out of it. In all honesty, I've been going through a few life changes. As you know, if you've read any of my old posts, I was a resident of Thailand for the last year as a volunteer at the Mercy Centre. That year has ended, and a return to what many would consider 'the real world' of work and bills has ensued.
So something about this blog will have to change, because now I'm a bona fide university student! One of the collegiate masses. . . Sweet. How it will all go down is for me to find out . . .  and for you to read about?


Now, my poor neglected reading duo, you're still going to get some good stories and the same righteous anger as before, but now my subjects won't be the world of NGO working as much as the stupidity of pubescent, acne stricken children. I honestly can't tell how old these people are . . .

Seriously though, I've just started, and I already feel miles ahead of these newbies.
Guess that's what you get for taking a year off.

Coming soon to a theatre near you,
The Muse with a Twist!
(wait... does that make me a twisted muse?)

Nats

June 13, 2010

FIFA Fever

Popular bands SNSD and Super Junior modeling appropriate attire
It dominates CNN and Korean TV ads, Music and fashion . . .
What is it?

It's the FIFA WORLD CUP!

Now, I'm as stoked as anyone about the most widely watched sporting event in the world, but I've never seen it like this before.
Every single ad in Korea now has some reference to how it can be used in relation to soccer; Belcube cheese cubes, ice cream, fried chicken, insurance, credit cards . . .  Music has suddenly taken on a 'let's go kick ass because we're the best' attidude and it's become almost politically incorrect to wear any color other than red. This is just in Korea, and I'm sure to some extent it's international, but this is my blog and I've only seen it in reference to the Fighting Reds. They certainly take this quote by Bill Shankly to heart:
"Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that."

Yesterday was the first Korean game against Greece, and though I didn't see it (only one channel here has live coverage, which is one of the few that we don't get), I sure heard it. They set up TV screens in the park near our house, and come game time, man were the restaurants doing good business. We could count the goals made and missed from two blocks away.

I don't think there's anything more invigorating as being in a place where the entire city of over 10 million people are watching the same event and cheering.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes if they lose to Argentina.

Nats

May 31, 2010

Timbits!

One thing I miss about the Great White North is Tim Hortons. If you don't know what that is, not only are you extremely deprived, but I also seriously pity you. Tim Hortons is Canada's answer to the USA's Dunkin' Doughnuts and Krispy Creme, and boy does it ever destroy them. Neither American franchise has made a dent in the Canadian coffee and doughnut market because they just can't match Timmy's. Anyways, they have these little doughnuts called 'Tim-Bits' that come in assorted flavours for your snacking pleasure. So, in honor of my imminent enjoyment of said culinary establishment, I give you 'TIM-BIT!' your little random fact, quote, word, or tale.

Every once in a while my friend sends me an interesting word from a dictionary which we then proceed to destroy and redefine. Thus, I give you a wacky word from time to time and fix it up myself.

The word of the day?
Defalcation: the act or an instance of embezzling or a failure to meet a promise or an expectation.
Personally, I see 'defalcation' and think of a process by which falcons are removed, or, unfortunatly, 'defacation', whose definition we won't get into.  Interesting non sequitur, did you know that falcons are often employed at airports to keep smaller birds out of the engines?

Nats



May 25, 2010

Oldies Rule!

hmmm. . . . I guess the title pretty much says it all . . .Why this is, I have no idea, but it's just a fact. For some reason, perhaps because of Global Warming, music in this Century just isn't as good as the old one. Now, that's not to say I don't indulge in some Flo Rida, One Republic, and All American Rejects, because I do, and I enjoy it. But somehow lately all I want to listen to is Cyndi Lauper, The Beatles (who, I'm sorry, will always rock), ACDC, Toto . . .  Ironically the 1990s gave us some good stuff, and yet our Generation (ok, my generation, not that of the Who) who has come up with the Mac, PC, and hip hop, can't spin a single, legendary track.

Sad, isn't it?

Letters from Strangers

A few weeks I broke up with my boyfriend of 23 months. I know, a high school romance is rather eye-roll inducing, but perhaps people forget how much time you spend with your. . . 'friend'. As adults, we expect to have our own work, our own hobbies, our own friends (and yes, I know that's a generalization), but in high school, especially a small one like mine, everyone knows your business, you're friends with everyone, you take the same classes, play on the same teams, and there's nowhere that you haven't been together.
You try putting two 25 year olds in such close proximity to each other for a year and see how they like each other at the end of it.


Anyways, it was hard. Rarely do we see evidence of a breakup neither party wanted, and so everyone gets hurt. One of my favourite blogs, yes and yes, had a guest post called 101 Ways to Cheer Yourself Up (link to part one only), which I love. I regularly use number 81 with A, but there are some really good ideas in there. Nothing I tried helped though, and so I sent the writer Steff Metal pf New Zealand an e-mail about why I felt so bad, including some stuff about my family, and within a day I got the following response:

Hi Natalie

Thanks for writing and saying such nice things about that article! I think it's probably the best piece I've ever written, and my inbox has been flooded by this outpouring of warm, sad, happy, depressed, moving and hopeful stories. It's been a real experience :)

It really does sound like you're having a terrible time at the moment. And yeah, there are people starving and homeless and whatnot, but we're not talking about them, we are talking about you, and you seem really down and sad :(

You sound like one of those girls who wants to look after everyone, and heal their pain any way you can. You put all your own feelings on the back burner to help your mum and sister and friend, and you're doing this all with a broken heart and feeling like there's no one to talk to because everyone else's problems are so much more important.

Sometimes you have to admit to yourself that you are in over your head.

Sometimes, to truly get over something heartbreaking, you need the time to mourn. Time alone. If you can't find that time at home, maybe there is a church or temple nearby you can go. Even if you are not religious, sometimes just a quiet place where you can go and meditate and cry for an hour or to and everyone just leaves you alone. Sometimes that's a saving grace.

Sometimes, the ONLY thing that can get you through one of those breakups is the belief that if it was meant to be, you will meet again, a little bit older and a little bit wiser, and it will be perfect. If it was meant to be, you haven't said goodbye forever.

Sometimes, you can't care for others unless you're also caring for yourself.

Sometimes, we get in survival mode,

It's not your fault.

If I could wave a magic wand and your life could be perfect right now, what would you be doing? NOT who would you be with or who's pain would be healed, but what would, you, be doing that would fill you with peace and happiness? Painting? Traveling? Making wedding cakes? Building houses? Training circus animals? Seriously, what would it be that would fill you with absolute joy - a thing that makes your heart race and your face break into a smile?

That's what you should be finding time, even if only 5 or 15 minutes a day, to do right now. That's what you need to survive. It's right there inside of you.

Sometimes, you just have to say to yourself, "I need some love too," . That doesn't mean you desert your people , but somewhere in there, you need to create a space where you JUST think about you.

I could be completely on the wrong track here :) But I hope something I say helps, just a little.

Let me know how you're doing.
Steff

Now, I haven't had the decency to answer her, but I think that's partially because it was so nice. This is to a complete stranger, and it really helped.

So when you feel like crap and your world's upside down, do something nice for someone else. If there's decency in someone else's life, its easier to believe there will be in your life too.


Or take up a hobby, as she suggested; I've gotten into cross stitch and photography, so we'll just have to see if the world rights itself.

May 24, 2010

It's Alive! It's Alive!

That line, the "It's alive, it's alive!" that supposedly from "Frankenstein annoys me as much as my mother saying "the bells, Esmerelda, the bells!" and attributing it to "the Hunchback of Notre Dame." She does it in jest, but seriously, don't misquote the classics!

Anyways, I just thought you'd like to know that I am alive and well, though a little more holey than before. The dog bite didn't do me in, and neither have I been seriously injured in the eruptions in Bangkok. To be honest, as interesting a blog post those options would make for, I've really just been behind the Great Firewall and with the Mothership. Somehow whenever I'm with my mum my routines just go to pieces, and in China, well, Blogger is among the illustrious websites (Facebook, Youtube, etc)  the government has deemed too dangerous for general consumption.

Otherwise, I'll bring you up to speed speedily, most of which I'll get into at a later date.

I broke up with JW and I'm suffering for it, I spent $1500 getting treated for a dog bite, I pack my bags for university, I went to China to stay with my manic depressive friend A  for a month before her graduation and get a job, and E had a break which meant I got a call telling me to come home. So, since my last post, I've been in Korea, China, and now Korea again. Oh, the joys of International travel.

Lots of things to blog about though, so I guess silence really is golden.

April 22, 2010

How to Say Goodbye to a Nation

  1. Visit the heart of ongoing protests in the vain search for pillowcases, giving yourself blisters in the process
  2. Throw a (lame) party by getting a pity invite to someone's house and inviting the five people you know and can communicate with
  3. Spend six hours downloading the latest Gossip Girl (he he, guilty pleasure) so you can have something to do later
  4. Insist on carrying everything with you, even if it means your suitcase is 10 kg overweight
  5. Take a company car to the airport, accompanied only by the students who were ordered to come with you
  6. Get bitten by a potentially rabid dog while peacefully walking down the street literally 30 meters from your house 
  . . .

Wait. . . What?

That's not a very nice way to say goodbye to the people and country you've lived in and dedicated 7 months of your life to!

Congratulations, you've figured out that the way to say goodbye is both a) not as is described above and b) non-existant.


Of course there's no way to say goodbye, and goodbye is mostly just a new beginning as is illustrated here,
 and certainly not an entire country,except to relive your greatest memories and enjoy your closest friends. I couldn't do that, mostly because of the protests and because of the Songkran holiday, but that doesn't mean I resent it. Except for the dog bit. I'll get into that later, as well as a potentially tearful goodbye to Mercy. .

Just wanted to let you know that I'm alive, and indeed out of  danger in terms of protests, though not necessarily dogs.

Nats




April 15, 2010

Songrkan (Or the wettest week in the whole country)

I've had, during my 7 months in Thailand, a total of four new years: Academic, Gregorian, Chinese, and Thai. Yes, I've celebrated all of them, but if that's not the universe telling me to make a new start for myself, I have no idea.

New Years celebrations are all different. Academic New Year (between August and September 7th)  is more of a tragedy, or a reunion that an all out party. Gregorian New Years (January 1st) involves missing school/work, staying up late with a lucky date the night before, getting drunk, counting down and watching the ball drop. Chinese, or Lunar New Year (late January to February), is celebrated with a huge fireworks/firecrackers marathon that makes the western version of a light show look like a sissy (as in, a few years ago they burned down the brand new CCTV building in Beijing), paying homage to your ancestors, giving Hong Bao, or red envelopes with money to your children, and a family reunion.

Now, none of this is anything like Thai, or Buddhist New Year. Celebrated in Mid April (read, right now) during the summer holidays and the hottest part of the year in Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos (apparently it lasts 3 weeks there), its by far the most fun I've ever had.

Imagine a water fight. . . Now imagine a gay pride parade . . . and now imagine a mud fight.

Combine all that, and you have Songkran.

For three days, whenever you leave the house, prepare to meet serious traffic jams, be doused in often ice cold water and plastered with mud and talcum powder. Also, prepare to have some serious, serious fun.

I went with P, P's niece and boyfriend, J, and G to Ayyuthaya by train on Tuesday for the first day. We rented a tiny little Tuk Tuk, bought some water guns and a big bucket, and just painted the town gray with mud.The biggest danger was actually from the pickup truck filled to the brim with coolers and people who'd come up behind the car and just dump it in. We walked down one road, dancing to the music and painting other people's cheeks.
No, that's not us. You think I'd risk my awesome/ sucky camera for that?

Of course, being a foreigner incited calls of 'Farang! Farang!' as people crossed the street to put mud on me, ask me where I was from, and dump ice down my back. Partially I think its also socially acceptable to sexually harass people, (I got kissed by a random dude, and I'm not someone who gets kissed, had cheeks pinched, breasts touched, and butt hit) but it was so much fun it's easy to ignore it.

Bangkok has apparently been rather subdued in light of the recent violence, and a lot of the big celebrations have been canceled, but I'm still seeing a vibrant country.

The reason for the whole water pouring is that it symbolizes the washing away of all of last years sorrows and becoming clean for the new year. Its also an excuse to cool off too.

Right now, there's a party going on right outside the office, but I have to go home and tell people that apparently there's a party for me tonight. Only problem is that if I leave, I'll have to take the computer with me, and it'll get wet, and that would be bad. . . what the hell, its a party right?

April 12, 2010

Protesting the Protests

I'm a Pink Shirt.

Not a crazy Red Shirt.

Not a hypocritical Yellow Shirt.

If I liked Orange, I might be orange, but I'm Pink!

These protests have been going on for a month, and while I get that the Red shirts have something to be pissed about . . . I really think Khun John said it better than I can,

I know why they're pissed, but could they please be pissed somewhere else?!


Because of protests, my mother's forbidden me from going out, I can't go look through the malls for potential computer choices,the kids have missed Taekwando classes for a month, I can't use any of the buses because they're all been shut down, and now that I have free time, I can't go anywhere!


I am, sadly, leaving in four days, and they're raining on my parade!


I'm shocked that it's escalated to worst violence since 1992, especially since the last time I saw them, they were just making a lot of noise so a conversation wasn't so much two people talking as a shouting match. I know you're sad to see me leave, but I draw the line at death, kapish?

What do you guys think of  the protests in Thailand, or have you even heard about them?

April 10, 2010

The Truth About Myanmar Part 2

corching sun as a

I have permission to go, I have money to go, at this point its just a question of getting everything ready to actually get there.

Planning a trip to Myanmar really shows you how those 'sanctions' we've heard so much about actually work. Because of sanctions, you can't :
  1. Find and ATM
  2. Find flights through American/Canadian/European travel websites like Expedia. You have to go straight to the airline and pay the higher price
  3. Book most hotels online
  4. Use credit cards to pay for anything there
  5. Find a 7 Eleven for those feminine emergencies (i.e. chocolate cravings)
  6. Find up-to-date, accurate information on transportation or. . . well, anything else
Pretty much, the only effect is to make travel for the foreign tourist a PAIN IN THE.. . . But that's a whole other issue.

When I finally found a ticket from Bangkok to Yangon, fitting everything I wanted to do into the four days I had free was something of a clown car. I do it, I have schedule (I'll get into that next time), and then the next thing I have to figure out rears it's ugly head: visas.

To find an appropriate bus to take from Mercy to the Embassy was interesting, but made so much easier with Google Maps. I cancel my two morning classes to get there in the morning (Since they don't have a website, I have no idea what their hours are like). I go, fill out my forms, reach for the envelope containing my photos and. . . its empty. Great; in my last minute run through yesterday I forgot to put them back.

Grumble Grumble, I leave the Embassy. . . walk along the desolate road in the blazing sun, dying of thirst, until I see. . . I photo studio! Yay! I don't have to come all the way out here and cancel classes again! I run in, pay a ridiculous fee for four very embarrassing photos, and head back to the Embassy. I go to the window, get a number, and wait patiently.

Up to the window, the scary Burmese official who has probably just been honorably discharged from the Army for bootlegging some Marlboro Reds looks at my forms and says
"Your job is a volunteer?"
"Yes, here in Bangkok. . . "
"Hmmm *flips though my duly completed forms* We need a letter from your employer. "

Are you serious?

"I'm leaving on Thursday, is that enough time?"
"Oh yeah, can you come back tomorrow?"
No, I couldn't because I had to schmooze come Canadian Parliamentarians.
Again, I leave the Embassy, wander along the deserted road in the scorching sun, accompanied by a swarthy man playing a tiny, tinny violin.

Yay.

For all you future travellers to the Golden Land! To obtain a visa, you need:
  • Your Passport (like, duh)
  • A photocopy of your passport
  • Two recent, color photos like those in your passport
  • 'Duly completed' Visa form, Arrival form, and Work history form
  • And, if your current and/or former job is anything like teacher, volunteer, journalist, editor, UN worker, or street cleaner, you also need a letter signer by your employer saying you're going as a tourist, not in your capacity as a fore-mentioned professional, that you personally organized and paid for your TOURIST trip, and that anything you do there is as a TOURIST.
The whole thing will cost 810 baht and take two business days, and will get you a tourist, single entry visa valid for four weeks in Myanmar. Embassy hours are from 9:00 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 3:00 for visa processing, and from 3:00 to 4:30 for passport pickup.

I share. God, Ms. Crawford would be proud of me!

When I finally get my passport back, two days before I leave, I'm getting excited. Sure, having to wake up at 3 in the morning to catch the flight was a downer (at least I had caffeine, otherwise the security guy would have been missing a few items), but it was worth it to see this sign, which was also an ad for tea mix, next to one saying

"Drug Trafficking is Bad! Punishable by fine or death."

April 9, 2010

Mother's Message to a Paralyzed Bangkok

I was going to a Baha'i function yesterday. I really was going! And then my mother calls me just as I'm about to leave the Centre. The conversation is as follows:

Mothership :"Nats, there's a STATE OF EMERGENCY?! And you didn't call me?!"

Isn't he a scary, two faced man?
Me: "Yes Mum, but don't worry, they're no where near . .  "

Mothership: "Are you going to the Feast?"

Me: "I'm just leaving now."

Mothership: "No, you're not."

Me: "Mum, It's my last one before I leave, I have to go say goodbye!"

Mothership: "Nats, You're NOT GOING! A state of Emergency means you don't go anywhere unless you have to, and you don't have to!"

Me: "Mum, the only protester I've seen here was one lone, very Red guy reading the newspaper in 7 Eleven."

*Pause*
*Laugh*

Mothership: "Ok, now I'm not so worried."

Me: "Have to go Mum, or I'll be late."

Mothership: "You're not going!"

 Her views were perfectly reinforced by her Facebook status this morning too:

Only 9 more days 'til my totally-grown-up baby is home again. State of emergency in Bangkok makes me WAY too jittery about her, and I just want her HOME!

 Yup, I'm still a baby, but I guess it doesn't help that I still didn't go.

April 6, 2010

The Truth About Myanmar Part 1


At the beginning of this blog I told you that I'm in love with Myanmar. It's my country, and I understand it almost better than my own.

The affair began in Grade 11, when I was one of the most experienced members of my Model United Nations (MUN) class*. Because, yes, I'm awesome, I got the toughest assignments our school had ever been given, and certainly one of the most difficult you can actually get, the Advisor of Myanmar in the Advisory Panel on the Question of Myanmar. Yes, a partner and I had to represent the Government, the Junta, in a room full of people who hate you and want to do everything possible to screw you over. I don't care what people say about the Security Council, International Court of Justice, and Officer positions at MUN conferences; nothing can beat that. Anyways, I had to do a lot of research on pretty much everything about the country, and so I know things like that we used to be the number one opium producing country before Afghanistan realized that the straight and narrow is boring and decided to come hang out with us in the Golden Triangle.** I also know that while official literacy rates hover around 35%, in reality its closer to 95%. We just want your development money.

In the course of this research, and a botched trip to what has to be the scariest embassy in the world, I felt a connection. Of course, I am a die hard fan of 'The Lady,' but I can at least understand why the Tatmadaw (see how I slyly added a Burmese word meaning the armed forces? Yeah, I'm cool that way) are so awful and how the International community is doing a terrible job of managing it. I went to the conference, I talked a lot, yelled a bit, and went home. I did more research for a project on Juntas involving a bathtub (don't ask), and read a lot of books. That assignment really got me into international politics and also got me thinking about how cool it would be to go there.

So, when I realized that my Thai visa would expire in a few weeks, I did a bit of research, and casually brought it up in conversation with my mum. She said yes, and thus began my trip of, if not a lifetime, certainly the year.



*Please note that being in MUN does not make me either a power-hungry, manipulative bitch or a nerdy over-achiever. I like to think of myself as being halfway in between.

**Interesting thought; why is it that the US is in a War on Drugs in Colombia when Myanmar and Afghanistan are producing way more? Could it be because no one wants what we have? (yes, I know I just said we)

March 28, 2010

The Rubaiyat of Oman Khayyam

Ok, I cheat, what I have are not the originals, but when I first read a selection all those years ago in Grade 10 Literature (yeah, we're cool like that), I was hooked. I love how he can communicate so much in such short stanzas. In case you don't know what this collection of 'Rubaiyat' or quatrains were originally written by the a fore mentioned Oman Khayyam (pretty self explanatory title, eh?) until they were 'freely adapted' by Fitzgerald in 1875, when he was attributed authorship. The collection is largely about how life is short and how we should live it. I share a few of my favourites:

Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certian, the the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,
Before we too into the Dust descend;
Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,
Sans Wine, Sans Song, Sans Singer, and - sans End!

March 27, 2010

The Smiles and Sobs of Children

There are a lot of things I could say about this idea; children have the universal power to make people, especially women, smile and empathize. I'm totally serious! Next time a kid does something cute, chances are all the guys look and laugh, and the women are smiling knowingly. I just wish that children would always inspire happy thoughts.

To the tales of the day!

We had a group of Canadian Parliamentarians come visit one of our schools on Thursday that they had help fund. Technically it's only our school in the way that we run it, but some fancy architect built it. Out of Bamboo.

The Canadians come, look around, and talk to the kids for a while, before one of them asks "Do you know what two languages are spoken in Canada?"

The kids look around and scratch their heads for a bit, before one gets up the courage to shout "Thai!"

We all laugh, and he asks the question again. Same reaction, and another kid shouts "Thai!"

For kids like this, the whole world is only what they know, and so what they know makes the whole world.

Then at Mass today I find out that two 12 year old boys at Mercy raped a little 5 year old girl. Where they learned this, I have no idea, but the kids decided that they didn't want people like that living with them, and so the boys are gone.

A dear friend of mine was raped, and years later it still affects her perceptions of men, and of humanity; I hate to think how a 5 year old girl will be effected by this. It's a theft, of her health, her dignity, and of her faith in mankind, so how do we restore that?

March 19, 2010

Plans, Plans, and the Choice to make the Plans

You know the feeling you get when you make a plan? For some people, its a mild form of internalized panic as you feel the doors and windows shutting. For others, it feels like the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. Sometimes it's pure, paralyzing fear. I have to admit, in the past year I can think of innumerable instances when I've had to make a choice and felt each of these different ways.

I'm at a point in my life when choices have to be made, and believe me, putting your head in the sand does help at all. It's hard to believe it's been scarcely 6 months since I was sitting in a dry bathtub in a Singapore hotel room crying my heart out because of missed opportunities.

Some days I look back on the decisions I've made, to come to Thailand, to stay with JW, to not play Basketball, to apply to LSE; sure, some of them weren't the best choices to make, but when I think about it, I'm a relatively happy, healthy person.More importantly, the world hasn't ended.

As terrifying as making plans, and the necessary choices can be, that's the important thing to remember. The world goes bumpity bump,(in Father Joe's words), no matter what happens.

The last few days have involved calls to my mum in which she first asks me "Have you heard anything from universities yet?", to which I honestly reply no. She then tells me "About this summer . . . Em and I (insert positive or negative) coming to Canada with you. " Three times that's changed, and each times its another loop on the emotional roller coaster.

I met A's mum Y on Saturday, as she's in Bangkok for a week to certify a school. I woke her up at 9, and we talked solid until 5. And you know what we talked about?

Plans.

Plans about getting a job, plans about university, plans about JW and A, plans for Mum, choices that we all have to make in order to make the necessary plans.

I guess there just comes a point when you just have to sit down, buckle up, and breathe before the next turn comes and you've fallen out of the car.

March 17, 2010

Technology in Little Hands

Just got some pictures from the Kindergarten; whoever said young, poor kids don't enjoy or learn from technology was simply being ridiculous.

At F-12:
Favourite TV show? Tom and Jerry.
Favourite programme? Paint.

Nats

Sit!


Not much going on today, but I'll just leave you with this answer to the following fill in the blank from a normally taciturn student:

Question: "I'm not ready yet. Could you_____________a little longer?"
Answer: "Sit down and shut up"

Golden!
Nats

March 16, 2010

Issues and Jealousy


So I've been reading some blogs lately. . .

Ok, I admit, lots of blogs. Some are absolutely hilarious, some inspiring, some, (like this one) boring. But my favourites, are freaking inspiring. Can I really be that boring? I'm having some serious blogging jealousy right now.

What have I been doing recently? Well,
  • Dodging Red Shirt protesters on the five minute walk to work. Yesterday they started collecting witch-doctored blood to throw and government employees, and on Friday they were paying people to hand over their ID cards and put on a Red Shirt. ( okok, not really true. I haven't seen any protesters, but the blood and pay offs are real)
  • Having lunch with the Canadian Ambassador to Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos. I'm a political player! Dream come true! I mean, the only reason I was there was because I'm the only Canadian at Mercy, but I did get invited to a press op with some Canadian MPs and a reception at the Ambassador's house next week. Yes, I am excited, and no, I have nothing to wear. Any ideas?
  • Organizing new classes, one teaching a girl who, as I learned today, can't speak any English, and another with our newest student at Pearson College. More work, less fun; a day in the life of an unpaid volunteer!
  • Researching options for a possible trip to Myanmar at the end of the month. I have to go to the border to check on my visa anyways, and I'll never be closer than here, so why not? In the words of my fellow high school Myanmar adviser, "Myanmar Rules!"
So that's what I've been up to, which, when I think about it, are dealing with some big issues of the day. Any thoughts on these world changing topics? (ignore the third point, just so you know, my classes won't have a world wide effect). I mean, as Dom Marquis said,

The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race.

Judging by the blood on the doorstep, that could certainly be true!

Nats

March 10, 2010

Walking on . . . Graduation caps?!


Kindergarten graduated yesterday. . . Is it weird that I was more excited than they were? Of course, they had to go to school today which is something of a buzz kill, but I am so happy because of it.

Didn't have to go anywhere in the morning, and I canceled my classes in the afternoon (which turned out to be a really smart thing to do). Straightened my hair for the first time by myself (hey, I was bored), and I have to admit: even though I looked freakishly like my sister, I felt hot. Which is awesome, because if there's one thing volunteering does is bleach you of your sexy. Heels and straight hair, all the way baby.

Went around 11:30, and we got all the kids dressed in their little caps and gowns. Out of the 267 kids at our school, we had 77 graduates yesterday, and I was proud of every single one of them.

Parents brought huge bouquets of flowers and stuffed animals (how they fit in a bouquet is simply amazing), and there were about a thousand pictures taken. It this case, heels were not a smart thing; made me even taller than them and made leaning down incredibly dangerous. I always find it interesting how people I have absolutely no relation to want my picture sometimes. I took pictures with cute but random babies and total strangers, as well as really cute soon-to-be graduates.

Lined them all up, socked feet neat and tassels securely hung for the walk into the meeting room for the ceremony. Now, I generally when you have 150 kids in a room for over three hours in very cramped quarters they're likely to get ansty. Not these ones; they were all incredibly patient and quiet. We had some who were on the road to Dreamland, all of which simply increased my pride. Its absolutely hilarious how almost none of them smiled, and those who did fought for a while before just beaming.

*This picture was taken after the whole thing was over and they were waiting to take their own pictures; smile barrier broken.*

Father Joe gave a speech after handing out all the diplomas with the general message of 'stay in school!' It was totally awesome though because I understood most of what he was saying, like this gem:

Even if you're hungry and people are doubting you, always learn. . .
When we stop learning, what's to keep us going?


My opinion on the matter?

I love my kids!

Nats

March 8, 2010

Net Mouse

So, when I was little my Dad stayed in a house full or computers, of varying degrees of completion and usefulness. After we moved and he got remarried, he bought up a dying computer store. The place loses money like crazy and they're constantly renovating the place with his new Zen/Buddhist style, but it means the computers have another place to live, instead of functioning as a perfect table when eating illegal, sugary cereal. Back in those days I called myself a Net Mouse.

Dad was a Net Rat. Perceptive little kid I was back then.

A few years ago I spent the summer living with them and working in the store assembling machines and installing XP on machines whose owners had realized Vista sucks.

I thought those days were over; Mum never ceases to remind me that I've never been particularly technical, my computer sucks, and I don't fix things either.

Haha! Today was different! I gave the Kindergartners computers! I gave life! (metaphorically, of course)

10 second hand desktops, that just need a couple extension cords to be fully operational. Take that nay-sayers!

My hands were ridiculously dirty and they were feeding me half ripe green mango, but my dignity did not suffer. I'm a god today.

Plus, while waiting for the rest of the world to wake up this morning, I watch the Keira Knightly "Pride and Prejedice."

W arm and Fuzzy today, my friend. So warm and fuzzy that I leave you with this from the 1978 Farmer's Almanac :

To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.

That's so true too.

Nats

March 7, 2010

An Introduction to Thursdays

Thursdays . . . I've always liked Thursdays. Somehow they're always good days. At school there was always Assembly or ELSR Day or Volleyball or some sort of event, which meant that the beautiful afternoon was almost never spent in academic pursuits.

Here, Thursdays are Home Visit Days, on which yours truly joins a Community Health and Development Centre (CHDC) team on one of their daily visits to one of our contacts with HIV/AIDS who are well enough to live outside the hospice on their own or with family. Normally that team consists on NK and Y, two wonderful ladies with varying levels of English. NK herself has AIDS, two boys, and some non-malignant form of Cervical Cancer. She doesn't skimp on the details and certainly doesn't hold back.

Anyways, this Thursday I went with NK, Y, and T (NK's old partner in visit) to visit three people. One was relatively close to Mercy, and lived by herself in the back room of a restaurant, for some reason cluttered with hairdressing equipment. She picked up work at the restaurant, but kept forgetting to take her pills and thinking about worrying about her boyfriend. It never ceases to amaze me how many older Thais have relationships; in the West, after about the age of 40 having a boyfriend is rare, but this woman was at least that.We talked to her for about half an hour, checked her temperature, and set an alarm to remind her about her meds. We also left her a care package of Thai essentials, instant noodles and Baby powder! With a few other things tossed in too.

Next stop was was visit a Lady Boy at work in China Town. He worked at a cosmetic wholesaler (Y bought 800 baht worth of diet pills from him), and there was a big difference in the visit. No paperwork, no checking meds, just a casual conversation between friends. It lasted no more than 10 minutes; I felt so bad being the only Farang in sight, I drew attention to the conversation. I amused myself playing with a dog on the street in a feeble attempt to seem unconnected.

Chinatown is . . . pretty much a huge string of markets that makes for a shopper's paradise. Its full of wholesalers, who sell huge quantities to people for resale (I've twice seen similar bags, at lest fifty of them, being taken by three little ladies on Tunisian Air; I see the connection now!). At this point it kind of changed from a work trip to a shopping venture, not that that's a bad thing!

When we finally emerged from the tangle, we took a Tuk Tuk past the Grand Palace (yes, I took the flak for still not having been) to Tamasat University for Lunch. Ferry across the river to Siraj Hospital, temporary home of the Thai King during his series of illnesses that have kept him hidden away for most of my time here. Bussed past NK's home to a gas station where our third lady was working at the car wash. She had strange colouring on her hands, and was complaining of shaky legs. Our conversation was maybe 5 minutes because she was surrounded by co-workers, but it was a relatively jovial meeting.

Bussed back, just in time for my five o'clock class with the international girls.

Now, this is rather unusual, but I also went with them on Friday this week. Two women were healthy enough to leave the hospice, but because neither had any family or support network we took them to another foundation called WE-TRAIN, where they would learn a trade and live until they could get a job and home of their own. We also took a woman to a distant hospital so she could pick up her daughter's medication. This is where Mercy is useful; she didn't even think of asking the doctor to sign the papers so she could get the meds at the same hospital they get their IVs, and much closer.

The stint at the hospital took almost 4 hours, so I wandered down to the first floor and ended up making and teaching others how to make paper air-fresheners that look like little polo shirts. It was fun, and I might have to teach some more people here for resale. It was fun though; I doubt they get many Farangs out there, so everyone came over to practice their English. . . The White Girl's Burden I guess.

We made it home, through heavy traffic, at 7 o'clock. The result? One very tired volunteer who fell asleep waiting to go to the bathroom. Barely made it up for the Fast this morning, but it was totally worth it.

Quote tine! The CHDC is by far the most organized department. What did NK and Y's records show for the month of March?

Only one person died this month.

March 2, 2010

Fasting Day One

So, in case you haven't got this yet (though I probably can't blame you if you didn't), I'm a Baha'i. No, that does not mean I'm a cult member and likely to eat your children during a sacrifice to a satanic statue; its a genuine religion, and I'm proud to be a member.

If you want to know more about it, ask. Otherwise, I'll simply leave you with this quote by Abdu'l-Baha, which I use as guidance whenever I can:

"To be a Baha'i simply means to love all the world, to love humanity and try to serve it, to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood."

Anyways, part of being a Baha'i is Fasting. It is, I suppose, our equivalent of Lent or Ramadan. Starting at the age of 15, for 19 days (one Baha'i month) we don't eat or drink from sun rise to sunset.

It started today, and I, being a total idiot, didn't wake up before 6:30 like I was supposed to in order to eat. So now it's 12 o'clock, 33 degrees, and I haven't eaten or drunk anything today. Note to self, tomorrow WAKE UP!

Nats

March 1, 2010

News Flash

Sorry its been so long for the no one reading this; the internet's been really crazy and most of my communication with people has been over the phone. . . with my mum.

Not entirely true; A called on Thursday and we talked for two hours. She did another silly thing that I had to mock her for, but considering the summer plans currently incubating in my mother's brain, I may get to see her as early as May!

Anyways, a short catch up of the past week:

JW hasn't e-mailed all week.

Wrote my first resume ever for a job I can't even remember the specifics of that, in all likelihood, I won't get.

I've been to a total of three Baha'i functions in the last few days (with another one tonight). Sure, its the holiday season, but does it have to be so busy? It's certainly not helping with the loneliness I feel seeing as I've had maybe 4 personal e-mails in past week.

Its a Buddhist holiday today, so I stayed at home all day chilling and feeling sorry for myself.

I've realized my life sucks.

Canada is really good at the winter Olympics.

Tomorrow is the start of my new fast induced diet, which also includes staying away from 7 Eleven for three weeks. Needless to say I've stocked up.

And there's this Bahai guy that I cannot help but look forward to seeing. A result of item one? Unknown, but I'm really feeling screwed. Have to see him tonight too.

So yeah, that's my hellish life :)

Nats

February 23, 2010

Rejection

Rejection comes in many shapes and forms. Sometimes its the ignoring of a phone call, or the casual 'no' of a friend. Sometimes its the awkward wave goodbye, and sometimes it comes in a small envelope. Today, my rejection came in the form of a single word on my UCAS Track account: 'Unsuccessful.' Yeah, I know it was a long shot, but it was still a dream.

But you what's worst about that rejection? The word 'unsuccessful'. It makes it seem like it was my fault, that I'm not good enough. Sure, it's probably true, but they don't need to call me unsuccessful so soon. I have potential, right. . . right?

I've been rejected before, but somehow this hurts more that not dancing with the Dane at the Freshman dance. And I've rejected people too, but I don't know how the boy felt when I ran away from him (up a mountain) when he told me he loved me in Junior year. Ok, that's a bit of a lie; he apparently got crying drunk that night, and didn't talk to me the whole of Senior year. It's pretty obviously that he hated me. It's entirely possible that he still hates me.


ANYWAYS! We deal with rejection in our own unique ways. Ok, mine isn't that unique, involving copious amounts of chocolate and a call to my Mom, but give me a break . Chocolate is gold, people. Thank God for wonderful boyfriends who send Valentine's Day presents late and chock full of sugar. And through the chocolate haze, we find peace, and new people and institutions to reject us.

Which brings me to the quote of the day, by Earl G. Graves:

We keep going back, stronger, not weaker, because we will not allow rejection to beat us down. It will only strengthen our resolve. To be successful there is no other way.

So I try to keep the chocolate consumption to a minimum, and come to terms with the fact that it's not going to happen right now. It's not going to happen right now, but it's not the end of the world.

It's not the end of the world.

Nats


P.S. Chocolate courtesy of JW's room, via Korea mail. God I love them!

February 16, 2010

Goodbyes

J and I took T to the airport today. God, it just makes you realize how screwed up this world is. Her Dad is rich, her grandparents are rich, she's definitely an international kid, but today I say goodbye to her as she went off to foster care in the States. Now, I know there's a good chance that its temporary, but its so sad. It makes me think of how quickly its possible for us all to fall; what may seem like miles is only a minute one. That goes for lots of things though, not just falling. Even when we're far apart, we're close in heart and spirit, and technology (when it works) keeps us together. So, I've decided in this case to use the following quote by Ivy Baker Priest:

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.

And in all honesty, it is. I say goodbye to T, and I have to find friends elsewhere. She moves to live in a country she's only visited, and its an adventure, a foray into a new and strange land. That it will be difficult and awkward, I have no doubt whatsoever, but we'll keep in touch and stay as positive as possible.

If that fails, we'll always guilt her family into fixing this.

Nats

February 15, 2010

Reading List


An update on my reading, not that there's very much to report. Huckleberry Finn is done and gone! I have to admit, I sat down one sunny afternoon with a packet of biscuits and consciously made the goal to finish the damned thing! Ok though, it was good. Tom's obsession with doing things the right way, Huck's need to impress Tom, and Jim's way of protecting Huck made for and an interesting read.

The next book was lent to me by the very definition of 'nerd', Khun John when he saw me reading Hardy's 'the Mayor of Casterbridge." Knut Hamsun's "Hunger" (I'm reading the Robert Bly translation) is certainly very interesting. It's not just the subject matter, but also the simplicity of its language. Ego, oh my goodness, also plays a huge part in it. As a reader, we become almost annoyed by the unnamed character's (perhaps I simply haven't got there yet) obsession with keeping face. It's a very Asian concept, but he does everything possible to keep the innocent people of Christiania under the illusion that he's still successful.It's frustrating to see how he makes life harder for himself by believing that his writing is pure genius and that God is watching and waiting for him to slip up.

The hunger of the title is both of a physical and in an inspirational persuasion. As his starvation progresses, his well of 'brilliant' essays also dries up, leaving only the ravings of an intensly disturbed individual. A very very good reccomendation.

February 14, 2010

It's the Little Things that People Remember

So, here in Thailand it's Valentine's Day.

Yeah . . . Who cares? JW isn't here, so there's nothing really to remind me of the fact. G's disappeared, P's off in Hua Hin for a romantic weekend with her boyfriend (can I just say I'm jealous?), J's off doing her research, and T is leaving on Wednesday. Faced with such a bleak weekend, I chose to focus on Chinese New Year. T and I hopped on a bus yesterday to walk around China Town. It was fun, hot, and made me feel a bit more like home. All I wanted, and didn't get was JiaoZi*. Yes, that's what I remember; eating jiaozi in our favourite restaurant, and the fights Mum and I'd get into when I didn't want to go out and get them to go.

This morning I woke up early and watched as Lion dancers went through the streets of our squalid neighbourhood, walking through literally inches of red paper left over from firecrackers. Made me think of home again, and how every Chinese New Year Mum and I would hole ourselves up in the tiny bathroom to try and get away from the noise. Somehow I equate bathroom floors with 'House' Reruns now.

Another reminder of the new year was how yesterday Father Joe gave all the kids and staff at Mercy Red Envelopes containing 40 baht. The money came entirely out of his own pocket, and everyone knows this. That didn't stop them from coming into work just for that. Again, its the little things that we'll remember about him; his generosity in giving us all huge amounts of free money.

Like he told me; its the little things we remember.

Love,
Nats


* Chinese dumplings that most people will identify as 'Dim Sum'

February 12, 2010

Red Stikified

I started off the week think it would be reather depressing and disappointed. I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised. There were a fewer stupid acts and kids than I expected, and the kids had fun.

Gun Boy of my previous post hasn't, as you can see, lost the title. He now officially 'mai mi ma la yat', meaning he has no manners. Others proved themselves to be gentlemen (I make that distinction because my contact with the female students was relatively little and limited to "she's wearing THAT?") and really carried the show.

They had a party today, it being there last day, that mainly consisted of eating chips/junk food, dancing around to random, well known songs, and putting stickers on each other.

Stickers you may ask?

Yes, the exact same you're grade1 teacher gave you for writing your ABCs nice and neat. These were mainly heart-shaped in honor of tomorrow being Valentine's day.The picture is of all stickers that I pulled off of my face and clothes after arriving at home. I know I lost some, and some were stolen, but that's all I could find. Needless to say, I far more loved that any Valentine's Day celebrations.

Since it's also Chinese New Year tomorrow too (and in my opinion the far more important holiday), I made up little Red Envelopes for my class and the three teachers I have the most contact with. The kids got 2 Baht and a candy each, and the teachers got 100 baht. Small price to pay for everything they've given me.

Anyways, nice end to a nice week.

Nats

P.S. My Dad put my inheritance from my Grandfather in; makes me miss him more, but also makes me happy that he actually did it.

February 8, 2010

The Lost Week

This coming week is going to be a lost week; you know, one where the time goes by but noting gets done? In the kindergarten, the week is wasted because despite the fact that they're graduating next month, a contingent of 80 (why so many, I have no idea) teens from the International School of Bangkok are going to spend the week making crafts with the kids and painting the outer wall. The wall thing, that's a great service; the cost of the paint itself is astronomical, but added labour costs would push it over the top. Using privileged teens as slave labour is fun! The kids in the classrooms though . . . that's a bit of a different story.

It's hard because none of them speak Thai and they're teenagers. I had few staring at me like I was an alien, I suppose because I'm a white girl who isn't part of their group, but its just immature. It's funny that I say this because I too am a teen, and a relatively priviledged one at that, but . . . I feel so much more mature. They had the kids draw and color their favourite things and make crowns out of paper hats, and everyone had fun. Annoying, awkward, but fun.

But one kid . . . stupid emo boy, he makes a gun out of paper. Kids die playing with their parents guns! Its not a toy, like in other places were they'll never see a gun; its a problem here! So I tell him that he shouldn't do that, and he makes it look better! He adds details . . . Don't say they're just kids, because he was maybe a year younger than me. Eugh, just made me not like him at all.

Anyways, with my other classes are put on temporary hold because one student has been a no show, and the other one, her grandmother has just died after a long battle with an unknown condition involving a coma. Oh dear, sounds like my grandfather.

Baha'i reflection meeting at the end of the week, and I have to buy gifts for Mum and Em. Well, I suppose a lost week is the perfect time to do these things. Anyways, put up pictures so you can see how fun these kids are.

Nats

February 4, 2010

Good Talk, Bad Talk

Yesterday was really nice, actually, except for the very end. My Kindergarten kids have two days off as the teachers go for a meeting in some distant city, and so I got to sleep in. I didn't sleep that much, but it was so nice to have the option. Then I got a video call from JW, which totally made the day that much sweeter. We had a bit of an awkward discussion however, but it was totally my fault for reading too much into something he had said when it was never intended that way. We must that talked for two hours before he had to go for class and I had to get dressed.

Another strange incident with children though. P, a volunteer who recently left for university interviews seemed to attract strange men; I seem to attract strange children. I've had kids sticking their hands in my butt pockets and feeling around, kids hitting my breast (you know its not an accident when they squeeze), and kids randomly watch me as I open the door. Today, as I was sitting in the privacy of downstairs talking to JW, I saw the gate open. I thought someone had come home (I was the only one with a bit of a break) but there were no key searching sounds, so I went to check it out.

I pop my head out of the window and find three bite sized kids, one of whom has taken off her shoes and is trying on some heels (we keep all our shoes outside as it's taboo to wear them inside), fooling aroung in the courtyard. They see me, scream and yell that they've been caught, and run away. 10 minutes later they come visiting again, but they were gone by the time I stepped out. I have no idea what they wanted, but there could be a new story on the street that the house is occupied by an unemployed, pyjamas wearing psycho lady. It amused me to no end as I got dressed and went to my first class of the day, where I teach physics to a single pupil.

That done, I grabbed the new part-time volunteer and went to tutor in International girls. It's a rather ironic title since they're all Thai with not an international bone in their bodies except for the fact that they go to an international school and might get to go abroad to school at some point. I had to help Rose with a summary of the Cultural Revolution, a relatively simple thing, but the exercise made me so frustrated. What do you say when a sentence is so jumbled and badly punctuated that if I hadn't been listening to her for the past hour I'd have no idea what she was talking about.

What the hell are we doing here? Are they actually learning anything? When they keep looking up words that they looked at not ten minutes before. If they don't respect you enough to apologize for being an hour late, what business do we have trying to teach them, essentially wasting our time on kids who don't care?

So that was my day; memories of the past carried me up to the happiness ceiling, and then reality comes in on tiny, angry wings to burst the bubble. I suppose it's par for the course, but does it always have to be so. . . shocking?

February 3, 2010

La Villa


So since you know where I live, you also know that it was founder by a guy we all call Father Joe. Now, he's a bit eccentric, and he's often shockingly blunt, but if I was a lost kid in trouble, I'd sure as hell want him on my side. I think he kind of veiws us volunteers as his kids too; he protects us from any threat, real or imagined (very often the latter), and is quick to invite us to his home for dinner, even when very influential people are present. That he trusts me not to send million dollar donors running for the methane-perfumed Klong makes me feel very grown up.

Anyways, he's never actually taken us out for dinner, so yesterday, he did. At 6 o'clock, T, J, P, Mah, and I all pile into a van with Father Joe and his assistant, and off we go to some unknown (to us at least) Italian restaurant. Now, when I think Italian, I think pasta, pizza, and cheese, and I was really looking forward to getting these things (Cheese is ridiculously expensive here, and I was really craving it). I have to say I didn't get exactly what I wanted, but I will say it was one of the best meals I've ever had.

The Villa (pictured above) is tucked away off Sukhumvit road, and is one of the many businesses that Mercy, and Father Joe, has a special relationship with. I never ordered anything, other than water. The chef brought us food, and introduced it all in a wonderful Italian accent. Among the dishes I sampled, most of which I had never had before and will likely (and sadly) never have again:
  • Porcuitto and Melon
  • Mozzarella Stick (My cheese)
  • Steamed Veal
  • Mushroom Tortelini (My pasta)
  • T-bone Steak with rosemary
  • Perfect Asparagus
  • Seasame Salmon and Spinach
  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Italian Sausage Pizza (My pizza)
  • Tiramisu
  • Cinnamon Mango and Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Some Heavenly form of Custard
  • Chocolate Lava Cake
I must have died and gone to heaven, because I left feeling so wonderfully full and satisfied, I simply pray I'll have a meal that good again.

February 1, 2010

Getting Organised

So I recently decided that I can't live without a planner. When I was in school, they gave you one for your assignments, and I loved it. I had everything sorted out, and when things got crazy, I knew exactly how crazy things were. Now that I don't even have a calender since the new year . . . I miss my planner!

So I went to the local grocery store. They have a relatively large selection of stationary, but they didn't have any. Neither did the other store. A week went by, and I still had no planner. I know I've seen planners in Siam, so I say hey, let's take a look, after I get some more shampoo.

Three hours and two malls later, I finally find a planner. It's bigger and more expensive than I wanted, but I got the damnable planner! Siam is Bangkok's CBD, I get it, but do they all have to be so expensive? And there are people who work here, how the hell do they manage to look dignified lugging such ridiculously cutesy, oversized date books? My feet were killing me, I got back much later than I had planned, and I ended up eating three times as much junk as I should have due to the stress of the epic search!

I thought having things planned, things were supposed to be less stressful! Anyways, the whole thing was good, because starting today I have a whole bunch of dates to remember. I have Baha'i gatherings (I finally got a schedule) and one of my teachers is coming next week for the Chinese New Year's holiday, and I must admit, I'm looking forward to it. Now I won't miss anything! (touch wood . . .)

January 29, 2010

New Food

So, since I'm such a loser as to have absolutely no one who reads this, I had no ideas how to stop the ice cream urges, except to drink water. Lots, and lots of water. Sure, I resisted the urge for the rest of the day (Though as I write this I want it. . . I want it!), but I discovered a new food.

I often get given gifts of food, things that I otherwise would not have touched, but today it was an interesting item called Kanom Tam. I was skeptical; they looked like large, pudgy orange dumplings covered in long strips of coconut. It ended up being mildly sweet bread that had a consistency reminiscent of a heavy english muffin. The coconut was rather disappointing though, being stringy and vaguely salty without being actually integrated.

I'd put up pictures, but I ate the evidence. But I'll try to do this again so you can see the causes of my increasing obesity.

Nats

P.S. Just to let no one know, A called me yesterday and ate up all my skype credit. Got cut off halfway through, but its ok, just talking was good. There's talk of either I going back there or she coming to where ever I am come March so we can get together again!

January 28, 2010

Communication is the Key

Phone Calls. Its a sad day when in this age of technology and the new 'Ipad' we can't get the simple telephone to work. Invented in 1876, its one of the oldest technological conveniences to have survived into the 21st century, and yet . . .

It took me a while to get my 6 year old Nokia to work in Thailand; it turned out that a certain network's SIM card wouldn't work in it, but I got it fixed. But no one calls me.

Now, you might say, why don't you use Skype? That wonderful internet invention that in the reincarnation of your outdated cell phone? Well, and I will tell you, that you need the internet to use Skype, a resonably fast connection as such. And when asked why I don't use Skype very often, I will answer you; I don't have a very reliable internet connection, and even when I have the connection, it's too slow to actually carry on a conversation. So I set up call forwarding, so even when I don't have internet, my beloved peps can still contact me.

But do they?

No such luck.

So I'm just very lonely teen battling a new obssession with second rate ice cream from 7/11. Yes, I want to talk to my peoples, is that so strange? Since I can't talk to them, anyone have any ideas on this . . . frozen dessert problem?

Nats

January 25, 2010

Mrs. Lonely

I know that that title may inspire thoughts of the hit song "Mr. Lonely" by Akon; that's where I got it from, but the central line and sentiment of the song is the "I have nobody to call my own." Such is, thankfully, not the case with me, and yet somehow I feel like it. I live alone . . . I mean, sure, I have roommates, but I don't know very much about them, and they don't know much about me. J got into a really good university for her post grad; she didn't tell me though. T's probably going back to the States soon, seeing as she doesn't have a valid passport anymore, P has a new boyfriend, and G started working again. And what am I doing? Well . . . not much. Needless to say, I feel pretty alone here, and I really shouldn't, because I do have people.

My mom is my best friend; with her I don't feel pressure to perform in any way, there are no hoops to jump through. Now, begad, we don't always have the perfect relationship with her, and I'm not always honest with her, but I love her. She's one of the few people I feel smart talking to; I know I'm relatively
intelligent, but that often doesn't come across when I meet people and being a total social reject, I end up looking stupid by comparison. With Mum, I never feel that way. We've come to rely on each other since my Dad left, and for better or worse, I am who I am because of her.

My sister Em is six years younger than me, and as you can imagine, that often causes problems, but not so much now as it used to. I don't hate her nearly as much as I did because I don't have to be the mum now. Em took it hard when my Dad left, and it's resulted in severe depression; she tried to commit suicide 3 days after my 15th birthday at the age of 9, and we've been walking on thin ice ever since. I love her, and I care for her deeply; I think we've moved past the stage where I think she's ruined my life.

My best friend, A, is Australian and one year and one day younger than me. When I first met her; I hated her. She was younger than me, girly, and annoying as hell. Then in grade 10 as my current best friend started drifting away and I was having my first troubles with a boy, A and I got to talking. I suppose we've been talking ever since I realized that really we're not that different; we're often called twins. I don't know if we're than much alike or if it's just that we sanded off the rough edges and met in the middle. She's having a hard time lately, emotionally, and my not being physically there for her is really hard for both of us.

And then there's my boyfriend JW (though I might call him JP sometimes). We've been dating for a little over a year and a half, and though he's two months older than me he's a year below me in school. He's also Korean, which provides a lot of interesting senarios. For example, I don't know exactly when we met (we were at the same tiny school, you can't really hide from people), but I do know I started liking him as we furiously whacked volleyballs at each other; its a passion we both share, and its also something we're both very good at. He asked me out to the end of year dance, and that's when it started. We kept going through the summer and the following year, and this year when his parents moved him back to Korea, I was really happy to have him with me. I trust him, which is really hard for me to do, especially with a guy.

This morning when I checked my e-mail, I had 7 in my inbox. The only one that had any relation to me was one from JW. He keeps me sane, but sometimes, there's a weird confluence of events and I get nothing. No daily dose of love and reaffirmation of my connection with home from any of my friends and family. I have two other best friends, BBR and KM, but they're both in Uni and so busy they don't e-mail. I've kind of given up on them. Am I crazy to look forward to a full inbox? Or pathetic to look sadly at my phone when I don't have any e-mails? I suppose I am . . . I just miss the people I've left behind, and if any one of them suddenly leave me, for whatever reason. . . I'm going to be flapping in the wind.

Honestlythough, I suppose right now I feel like an Island. An Island with a drawbridge down and all inviting that no one will take the effort to cross. Something for further discussion I'm sure.

Nats