Big changes are coming…

So far, this year has looked little like I thought it would. That said, it’s turning out better than I could have imagined and even with all of the stress the changes are bringing, I feel luckier than I ever knew I could be.

That was intentionally vague, updates to follow. Stay tuned!

Hoping you’re all well,
AlexLOCOr

An early morning in the middle of the night…

… or I suppose it could be a late night at dawn. Staying awake to try and get your sleep schedule back on track is a little counter-intuitive, I’ll grant you. But it’s the best I could come up with and it felt like it was about time. Once you’ve been awake until four AM, woken up at ten AM, fallen back asleep, and woken up again finally at two PM, it’s time to try a new method of madness. Particularly when you’re on the West coast and the people you interact with most run on East coast time. So here I am, seven in the morning and a misty one it is. I’ve seen too many TV shows and movies involving British moors I think; the mist is making me nostalgic for something I’ve never actually experienced. It’s also making me wish I could paint. Anyway.

I went to Thailand. We all know that at this point, I hope. But I’m not in Thailand anymore and I thought maybe I should explain why, but the problem is I still haven’t quite sorted through it myself. It’s more accurate to say that I haven’t quite figured out my own angle yet. Before you jump to too many conclusions, no, I didn’t get fired.

Pieces of the story are about Thailand. Pieces of it are about home. Pieces of both of those things are related… it’s, well it’s complicated. One thing’s for sure: I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that money isn’t worth misery. And only you can define your own line between “tolerable” and “miserable” and evidently mine runs near a particular set of coordinates on the globe. It wasn’t all bad. Nothing is ever that black and white and every story has elements of beauty, learning, fun, etc. The story of my time in Thailand is no different and those are the parts of it I’ll be eternally grateful to carry with me. But I was fortunate enough to be able to make a choice. To know myself well enough and have the resources available to say, “This is not right for me.” Trust me, I’m aware of my own luck even just in that regard. Let alone in all of the reassurance that followed my choice, from the wonderful people in my life telling me I shouldn’t call it failure. I’m still not quite sure I believe them. Doesn’t mean I can’t go along with it for now though, I suppose. At least until I can pull myself together enough, get my head to stop spinning, and really think about everything that’s happened.

Here’s what I know: I am happy to be back in the States, for now. My definition of “home” is shifting beneath my feet and I’m in the process of catching up with it; a close friend of mine heard this and replied, “Welcome to being an adult.” I can’t say I didn’t resent the remark a little at the time, consistently self-satisfied know-it-all that I can be but I’ll admit I got where she was coming from. It wasn’t until Thailand and everything that happened and my plans fell apart that I finally felt what it’s like to, you know, not have a plan anymore. I thought I’d had plenty of chances and taken plenty of opportunities in the past to really sit and think about questions like, “Where am I going?” and, “What do I want to do?” I’ve never been without a path already beneath my feet before though. Another friend and I were catching up in Seattle and agreeing on the new question, “What do I do when Plan A fails?” and how much we hate said question. How does anybody, especially the self-satisfied know-it-all types like me, figure out Plan B when that means first you have to admit to needing a Plan B at all? I swear I’m not being as harsh with the self-deprecation as I sound (well, most of the time) I just definitely fit a certain personality type and I tend to think I’ve got a pretty solid head on my shoulders, at least when it comes to making decisions about my own life.

So much for that.

Really though, for now all I can do is count my blessings, including appreciating the love and support of the people I care about the most (something I should do every day but lately it’s taken center-stage as I’m figuring all of this out, which doesn’t seem like such a terrible outcome to the whole thing), and go with whatever I can think of that I know to be true. Dreaming (and I mean dreaming big) has never been something I’ve been shy about and if ever I get to a point in my life where I stop, then (THEN) I’ll know I’ve hit rock bottom. Thankfully, for now it just feels like time to… reconfigure. That’s a good word for it. I’m reconfiguring. Although the more I say it the less I like the word (it’s kind of an ugly word, isn’t it? As in aesthetically.) so I’ll leave it at that.

After all, there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be, right? Stay tuned.

Teaching myself to write, all over again.

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Have you ever written something, read back over it later, and thought to yourself, “That doesn’t sound like me. That doesn’t feel like me at all.”?

That’s how I’ve been feeling about my last post. But then, someone told me once (or maybe I read it somewhere) that the first step to becoming a writer is to write often. Write all the time. Just get it out and post it and don’t worry if you don’t like it. They tell you to start off just getting in the habit of writing everything down, and eventually you’ll find your style. You’ll figure out which voice belongs to you, fits you best.

But I’ve always had a good feel for my own voice. I get to the end of a piece, and it settles itself in each breath I take. It sits just right in my gut, perfectly at home there.

So that’s the last time I’m ever taking the advice of “How to be a Writer 101” Geez…
From now on I’ll write whenever I feel like it, and thank-you-very-much indeed.

Like right now; right now I feel like writing. Because I’m working on that ever-persistent question of, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” and I’ve got the time, as today is a holiday in Thailand (Happy Birthday to His Majesty, the King!) so I have the day off.

I have Joshua Radin’s Simple Times album on in the background, though soon it’ll probably change to Cumulus’ I Never Meant it to be Like This record. My aunt just reminded me how fantastic that one is, and that I should probably put it on repeat more often. If you haven’t heard it yet, take the time and enjoy. It’s worth it.

Simultaneously, alongside the music, soon I’ll be devoting part of my afternoon to reading a good book (or three, switching between them in true ADD fashion). Currently I’ve got Someplace to be Flying (a re-read, actually. My favorite book and HIGHLY recommended) by Charles de Lint, Villa Incognito (which I accidentally left at work yesterday. Damn.) by Tom Robbins, and Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne, going. I’ll sit on my lovely little bench (which the Thai refer to as a couch, I think because it’s too hot here for anyone to be comfortable on an actual, fabric-covered couch) and drink my usual too many cups of coffee. Maybe afterward I’ll even get some emails sent and letters written.

What a nice day off, this Thursday is turning out to be. I hope you’re enjoying your afternoon, or evening, or morning, depending on which part of the world you’re in, equally as much.

~ Salut

Just another night in Kalasin

Earlier this evening, I walked out my front door and over to my bicycle, parked as always in our building’s convenient alcove near the stairwell. I was heading to the only shop nearby that I’m aware of that will offer me both honey milk tea and free wifi, along with a view of the lake at sunset and who can really beat that combo? It’s only a short ride away – I could walk there if a) I weren’t lazy and b) I didn’t have a cold. Hence the honey tea. Thankfully nights here are warm so there’s no risk of making my cold worse by setting foot outside in December (like some places I know *mhm Seattle…). Once I’m at the cafe, wifi on and in my favorite seat, I can sit for hours without being bothered (which I do, happily). I watch the patrons come and go, and it’s not so different from being in any cafe, anywhere in the world. Except of course for the inevitable fact that, when the people around me are speaking, they’re speaking in Thai. I was there to download some books into my Kindle app, and once I’d well exhausted the free classics section, I was ready to leave. There was only honey-less slushy ice left in my cup anyway. Once I was back on my bike though I wasn’t so sure that I was ready to head back to my apartment, and it’s moments like that when I can’t help but reflect on the circumstances surrounding me. I’m on my bicycle. Which I ride every day. Heading down a street, the same street I live on, leaving a cafe that I love to frequent. I have on a jacket because I’m sick and can’t risk getting chilly, but I don’t really need it; the night is warm and there is only an occasional light breeze. I’m riding alongside the lake, currently playing host to any number of activities – there’s the nightly aerobics class taking place in the center courtyard, the group of teenagers skateboarding near the entrance to the park, the runners circling the perimeter… I am beneath palm tree after palm tree and there’s no rush to do much of anything except enjoy saying hello to the dozen people you pass on your way home. Like the kid from my 8th period class on Tuesdays (the one whose family runs my favorite fried rice place in town), or my neighbor riding his bike in the other direction (out to get dinner).

What an adventure.
No matter what comes of this year. No matter what experiences I have along the way, good or bad.
What an adventure.

Life… as Robert Frost said, “It goes on.”
Or another way of putting it that I personally find fantastic, by the lovely Regina Spektor,
“This is how it works: you’re young until you’re not. You love until you don’t. You try until you can’t. You laugh until you cry. You cry until you laugh. And everyone must breathe, until their dying breath.”
So take a deep breath. It’s all an adventure, you just choose the genre.

– Sawadee-ka

Aside:
I really want to see this. If nothing else, even just the trailer is a great example of what I’m constantly thinking about – a veritable insight into my daydreams. (Well, maybe a little less emphasis on surfing, for me. I consider myself “aquatically challenged.” Unfortunately 😦 Anyway…) Enjoy!

Insta-ness in Thailand

Kalasin love.

Kalasin love.

Home, to the right.

Home, to the right.

Rearrangement

Rearrangement

Free Parking

Free Parking

A view...

A view…

21 Days & I keep getting the same question…

I just moved into my apartment about a week ago, just arrived in Thailand within the month, and already the question keeps rolling in:

“So, do you know what you’re doing after this year is up?”

Twenty-one days, people! That’s it! But this question is already more common than, “So, what made you decide to move to Thailand?” (Thankfully that one’s a close second.) Granted, we’ve got some free time on our hands here, and daydreaming fills much of that; it’s not as if I haven’t been asking myself that question since before I boarded the plane. As someone who insists on making big-picture plans (I’m the “Yeah, I’ve got a five-year plan” type), I understand the urge & embrace it. The truth is though, we (or at least I, I can’t speak for the other new teachers here, but there is a clear pattern) NEED to work on ‘living in the now.’ I don’t want to get to the end of this experience and wish I’d spent less time envisioning the next experience. Remember my last post? We just moved to THAILAND. The focus should be on things like the fact that most of us have never written a lesson plan before, and how do you say the name of the food I just ate, and did I just accidentally flash everyone while wearing a skirt, riding my bicycle, clearly not having taken wind resistance into account before I left this morning?

All jokes aside (for a minute), multiple friends have, at various points, already noted their own particularly Western addiction to focusing on the future. Though I’ve always been aware of my own struggle with living in the now, never has it been put into such sharp focus as seeing it compared to the Thai culture surrounding us. I want to be here. As in, actually be here.

That said, don’t be surprised if there’s a post up soon about post-Thailand daydreams (or actual plans. I have to be a grown-up about this at some point. Or so the other grown-ups I know tell me).

It’s my blog, I can do what I want…

Day Twenty.

It’s been almost three weeks since I moved to Thailand.

Let me reiterate that, just to really drive the point home:
“I moved to Thailand.”

No kidding? No kidding.

Okay, now that that’s been thoroughly established (now that what’s been thoroughly established? Oh yeah, that I moved to Thailand… Duh.) I can move on to talking about what it’s been like to MOVE TO THAILAND.

…alright I’m done, I promise.

The truth is though that, at the moment, there’s not much different about my life right now than there was back in Washington (I’m serious!). I’m sitting at my kitchen table, laptop cruelly overworked, endlessly refilling my coffee cup. This last bit mainly because I’m so excited about my new electric kettle! It’s the little things in life. I guess the major noticeable difference at the moment is simply the heat. I’m not willing to run my electric bill up in order to have my AC cool my entire apartment, but thankfully it’s not too bad in here today. This is in contrast to the current conditions I know can be found in Washington (I’m wearing a scarf in your honor, dear state. But it’s a light one. I’d still freeze). I’ve got my phone beside me and am waiting to hear from friends about going out to dinner.

This brings us to one major difference between Thailand (especially where I live in Kalasin, in the Northeast) and the States: it’s actually cheaper to go out to eat here than it is to try and cook at home. First of all, I don’t even have a kitchen! I have a fridge, a kitchen table, a sink (but NO counter space), and now an electric kettle. But to get any ingredients I’d probably spend about 100THB (about $3.25USD) for one full meal versus between 30THB – 60THB somewhere in town. I’d say I’ll miss cooking, but that was one skill I never really picked up anyway. 

As far as teaching goes, I would update you on it if I was doing any yet. But school doesn’t start until the beginning of November, and while we are [were] [technically] supposed to have an orientation [today], mai pen rai (think ‘hakuna matata’). I’m excited though! To know what grades I’ll be teaching (I know it’ll be secondary level, but details have yet to come) and plan a few lessons out. In the meantime, I’ve had plenty of chances to acclimate to Thai life and some time to work on the language (though I’m still pretty terrible). 

So there’s a pretty general catch up post…

Next I’ll write about getting into Bangkok, CIEE/OEG Orientation week (or as we like to call it, “Friendship Speed-Dating”), which included our trip to Kanchanaburi and crash-courses in TEFL & Thai language, and what ended up being the commute from Hell to get to Kalasin (I say that a little lovingly, in hindsight). 

Wishing you well, wherever you are!