Parents back from Hawaii. I now possess 10 pounds of macadamia nuts.
Four days before the GRE exam. 1.5 review books and 3000 vocab words to go. Logical move: study. Actual move: click on a facebook ad for $150 louboutins. spend the morning and early afternoon reading up on the shoe piracy business and debating with fellow shoe enthusiasts (gina).
In theory, I should be very stressed. Luckily, I have a recently formulated theory: enthusiasm defies logic in short term situations. Examples:
Surfing Wikipedia. Came across “stage 3 neurotic rationalization.” Damn.
First entry in a long time. Reason is purely practical- forgot the password, and between teaching, romping around Asia and leeching the parents, haven’t quite had the desire to run through all permutations of 90’s boy band singers with misspelled words from the teeny bopper lexicon. Had been at it for a while- finally even tried “FrankieMunezqtpye.” Then had to leave the computer in disgust. But, was ultimately successful so things are up and running again. Except I have no idea who that random dude (—— >) is. Or how he got there.
Here are some missed entries from Thailand:
100 students quarantined for H1N1!!!!! Chayatip bustles into my office, ominously says,” For your protection,” and hands me a surgical mask.
Proctoring midterm exams. My duty: checking students’ ID’s, to make sure they are who they say they are. This is more difficult than it sounds- all the ID pictures look very similar. This is not (only) because most of them are 90 pound chicks (or dudes trying to be chicks), but because photoshopping is big here. Typical ID photo editing procedure (to which Megan, Brian and I have all been subjected):
80% of the ID pictures look like photos of friendly marshmallows. Typical conversation confirming identification:
Me (To the very tan girl wearing a surgical mask): Is this you? *Points to a picture of a marshmallow* This is not you.
Jippawat: Yes tee-cha! It me! Seeeeeee? *Smiles and gives me a peace sign”
Me: Nothing about this picture looks like you.
Jippawat: *Thinks for a very long time* *Giggles* *Attempts another smile peace sign combo*
Me: I can’t tell this is you. Do you have another card?
Jippawat: Ok. Have. *Looks in purse* *Hands over a bank card, with picture of Hello Kitty*
University holiday for a week! Brian and I are flying to Cambodia to check out some Cambodian shit.
On the way to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, in a cab with a young New York couple. Eric is planning to go to law school, make a shit load of money, and retire early to do some hardcore chilling. Mary has just decided to enter a post-bacc program and apply to med school after two years as an ill suited actuary. I engage Mary first, as I figure we have much in common: I, at one point, also wanted to be a doctor, and I personally observed Stroup studying for an actuarial exam during beach week. However, it is ultimately Eric that draws my curiosity. He is the most content and charismatic chain smoking, money hungry, rude lazy American I could ever hope to meet. His complete lack of nobility perfectly compliments his briny New York cynicism, yet there is a deep peacefulness to him. I ask him what his secret for such harmonious living is, and discover he has recently been discharged from the Army after a length of service in Iraq. He tells me he loves life because he is “free.” I expect this to be the start of an “America Home of the Brave” PSA, but am mistaken. Eric hates American politics, most American people, and most of all, the American Army. (I carefully avoid words such as “behind” and “soap” for the rest of the night.) In Iraq, he found it quite ridiculous to feel so enslaved while fighting a war for freedom. Upon returning, he finds solace in his freedom to indulge in the cloying fruits of a material lifestyle and liberty to make snarky comments without getting beaten.
After hanging out with Eric and Mary for 7 hours straight in a questionable Cambodian taxi, I realize:
1) You can resent everything, aspire to no greater good and still be a happy, good person.
2) Scary Upper East Side doctor/lawyer power couples may very well have been broke hippie backpackers at one point.
3) I will never fully understand what an actuary actually does.
Got lost on the way home. Chased in the dark by a (large) pack of (large) dogs. Shaken, but alive (barely).
Moved out of the school apartments into a brilliant brick and cedar house high in the mountains. The only taxing part of the move was purchasing bed sets and motor biking home with pillows and sheets strapped to our bodies. The house is deep within a rural community, and there is an about 5 km stretch of dirt road riddled with potholes, confusing turns, and in all likelihood, trixy wood spirits/leprechauns. There is a larger house which Megan and I will share, and a smaller one separated by a driveway that Brian will inhabit. Because the larger house has yet to be vacated by its previous residents, we are now all sleeping orphanage style in Brian’s bedroom. I make a crack about sleeping with two girls to BChang, and we all giggle. It is pretty awkward for the rest of the night.
There are a number of ways to describe the unbelievable, liberating, exhilarating feeling of whizzing down a Thai highway on a motorbike. For me, I believe the best word is “unstable.” Nonetheless, purchased a bright red motorbike today for $650. The included neon yellow helmet, along with a Chinese character anagrammed on the side, gives a somewhat jingoistic Chinese vibe. Although Megan and I are identical in our outfitting, I suspect this impression is stronger in my case. I believe the character says,” thunder,” but could well be “storm,” “fog,” or any number of similar weather words. Either way, I believe the casual observer will not fail to recognize the implicit message- “fog” read “BADASS.”
Motor bike lessons with Matt (the Canadian). Dean once told me I looked funny riding a bike. My mother was forcing him to teach me; we were mortal enemies and rivals at that point. That day, under the lingering late summer sun, drowning in the din of cicadas, my most hated childhood foe challenged me to brave the steepest stretch of Tifton drive- a challenge I honorably accepted. The tragic results of my courageous act still show on my scarred knees and through my aversion to bike riding. On this again humid summer day, under the measuring gaze of the spawn of America’s enemy to the north, childhood trauma sublimes to wisps of smoke against iron resolve.
Fell over on Matt’s bike. Hoping he’s not too pissed.
First day of class at Mae Fah Luang University. I am given 3 types of 2 hour classes: Academic Reading and Writing (5 sections per week 30 students each), Intensive English 2: Speaking and Pronunciation (5 sections 60 students each) and Writing 1 (1 section 15 students). I wear my highest, pointiest heels and try to appear thinner than usual to intimidate the students into good behavior. This turns out to be 1) a fail and 2) completely unnecessary, as Thai college students average 60 pounds (with clothes), associate pointy shoes with prostitution rather than intimidation, and are already ingrained with a perverse amount of respect for their educators.
Enjoying my new position of power. I am bowed to wherever I go in the traditional Thai “wai” style, and am able to send herds of students into frenzied dispersal with but a look of discontent (especially effective if accompanied by a swooping lunge). This intimidation is most lucky, for the only thing that keeps them immobile for 2 hours while I lecture is respect laced with terror. Despite advertising itself as an “international university,” it is clear that MFLU students know no real English. From what I gather, their knowledge of the language before college is from Thai teachers who barely know the language, random white people who barely know the language, and Thai subtitled Lizzie McGuire.
There seem to be a multitude of diverse and interesting majors on the MFLU campus, including (but not limited to): biological science, multimedia design, aviation management, law, tourism, business Chinese, cosmetic science, English, and engineering. There are also uniforms at the school (white shirt black skirts/pants), which the students pimp out with major specific accessories (i.e., hot pink twillies for cosmetic science, full length rainbow capes for multi-media design, a general air of awkwardness for computer engineering- basic truths regarding human spirits surpass cultural boundaries.)
On the whole, I would describe the students as a cross between middle schoolers and Furbys. They congregate in sex-segregated clusters in the hallways and gibber away incoherently (my lack of Thai language knowledge may contribute to this perception). I try to imagine what would happen if one of them were to haplessly end up on an American college campus. I am at a loss for a witty metaphor to illustrate the devastating humor of the situation, because honestly, I can’t think of anything funnier than a MFLU student at a section party.