Sunday, December 4, 2011
Children. In all their nose-picking and tear-filled screaming, I have found a strange love for them. Monsters. They can change my, "what is wrong with these strangely small people," to "how are you so freaking cute?" Daily, I ask myself, "Self, why are you a teacher? Why do you surround yourself with these ignorant midgets?" And then little Peter, Grace, or even Dolphin (yes, that is his English name) remind me.
"No, No, No. No touching!" Dolphin says to me while pointing to the scissors on my desk. Yes, very good. Now, if I can only get him to express his own thoughts in English and not just repeat me like a parrot. But he's come along way since the first week of school, when everyday was characterized by screaming tears and throwing up his morning milk. Dolphin has perhaps become my favorite student.
When he points to something and says, "This is blue." Something alights inside me and I feel a sense of worth as a teacher. I am somehow shaping these beings into English speaking, well-mannered, and color naming people. And this is why I teach. At the end of my day (yes, noon. Sorry 9-5ers), when I'm tucking these little Chinese angels into their naptime beds, I feel this strange feeling I've never felt before. And the only word I can think to describe it is maternal. I still don't want children, but don't feel completely freaked out by the idea. I enjoy wiping their snot ridden faces and even reminding them to wash their hands. I like shoveling food into their mouths and especially love tucking them in like a bug in a rug and wishing them sweet dreams before they doze off. But at the end of the day, I still get to come home to my child-free apartment where the only person I'm responsible for is myself. But when I took my vacation, I still find myself wondering about them. Is my fill-in teacher taking care of them like I do? Is she wiping away their tears and then doing something silly to make them smile? Is she helping them eat, or just yelling at them for eating slowly like their Chinese teacher? Is she tucking them before naptime or just pointing them to their bed and telling them to "Lie down!" And most importantly, is she getting as grossed out as I do when they bring her boogers?
Nonetheless, being a teacher has changed me.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
A bustling megalopolis, Thailand's capital is not only tourist driven and overrun by foreigners, but holds within its city limits something so culturally charming. The streets are polluted with vendors and tuk-tuk drivers demanding your business, and every other small shop features some Middle Eastern merchant insisting you buy a suit. But if you can see past these sometimes annoying small business owners, you find yourself lost in what you may only see in movies. Quintessential alleys with small, sit outside, mama's cooking, cafes with lovely gardens, beautiful archways leading to centuries old temples and more modern places of worship. The less frequently you hear, "Hello, taxi!" or "Where are you going?" the deeper you are getting into Thailand.
I've found the only way to truly find amazing things, is to get lost. Leave the map at home (or in our case, leave it on the counter by mistake at a string shop; my bad). But having gotten remarkably lost and walking in no particular direction for several hours, we stumbled upon something amazing and sentimental. Chris' father's "go-to" jewelry shop. The place he bought all of his wife's jewelry. The place he probably stood on the same day as we, several years prior. Unfortunately, the shop was closed due to the impending floods, but nonetheless, we stood on the stoop and admired the shop's significance.
Friday, October 7, 2011
How to take a long distance bus.
How to sufficiently travel with no real plan.
To get lost and realize that you are going to end up exactly where you are meant to be.
How to learn (and butcher) new languages.
How to cross boarders.
How to be a teacher.
That strangers offer the best insight.
That people do different things and its okay.
Being resourceful is one of my best attributes.
Sometimes reading Chinese is easier than speaking it.
My body can tolerate a lot more than I give it credit for.
The 5 second rule is true.
That air drying your clothes not only is better for the environment but is good for your clothes too.
Things about refrigeration and cleanliness when handling food isn't as necessary as we're told.
That Starbucks is awesome in every country.
Sometimes where you sleep won't be the cleanest (or the softest!!)
Not to drink water from the shower.
Eggs don't have to be refrigerated.
No matter how far away I am, I am always part of my family.
That being so far away from my family sometimes makes me feel like something has been ripped out of my body.
Getting lost is essential.
Trying new food (even food you're pretty confident you won't like).
How to bring a jasmine plant back to life after killing it.
How to pee squatting without always getting pee on your feet.
How to talk yourself out of panic attacks (and just get them less).
One should never leave the house without a pen and paper.
That I can be happy in any situation I find myself in.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Fresh poultry can also be found within the Zhongshan marketplace. Littered between the fish and vegetable stands are cages of raised (or caught) pigeons, chickens, ducks, and geese. Tables of already killed birds, feathered and skinned if you like, or split open and de-organed per your preferences are also found in this area. Meat cleaver wielding stand owners chop off heads left and right and dogs linger looking for handouts or the dropped.
However, on extraordinarily hot days (which is everyday!) this marketplace gets very smelly! The pungent fish odor becomes suffocating. I force myself to walk briskly through this never ending market. Every so often, I get some reprieve from a garlic and ginger stand, where I take this time to take in another breath to hold as long as I can. Finally, I find an exit to this rather long, straight street. I turn right onto another alley only to find myself still under the sea of umbrellas. I try to look ahead for an escape but only see stand after stand with no end in sight. No light at the end of this tunnel and no solace for my nose. Like a venus fly trap it lured me in with pretty colors and delicious looking fruits only to hold me captive in its inner windings and streets of stench. Succumbing to the smelly mess I've gotten myself into, I hold my breath as long as possible, refusing to breath through my mouth. While I pick up the pace, I have to remember to walk carefully. Wearing flip flops through a wet fish market is never a good idea. It is easy for one to flip dirty, sidewalk water onto the backs of one's legs or to flop said water onto the feet.
Finally! I see cars ahead and passing busses. The End! I'm free! As I escape the market place's fierce grasp, I gasp for fresh air like I've been underwater too long. Ah, at last. While a very neat and lively area, I will remember to only go on cooler days.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Walking up the stairs from the subway, I am hit with the smell of something spicy. It’s a foreign smell but is all too familiar. The harsh aroma of Chinese spices and stir fried something or another slaps me in the face. Stinky tofu and roasting nuts vendors align the streets. Obnoxious entrepreneurs hastily walked up to me throwing there goods in my face trying to get me to purchase. Am I back so soon? Or did I just never leave? Was my 7 month sabbatical back home to the states a dream that I am just now waking up from? I will never know for sure. I lost my consciousness somewhere on the plane. That 11-hour flight seemed to drag longer than they usually do. I swear with every hour that ticked by, I lost an hour of my life. When I waddled off the plane (and I do mean waddle, my legs swell up like a fat infants’) and cart my 100 plus pounds of luggage, I realize time stopped when I left. I live two alternating lives. Here, on this side of the world, I am one person. A person that loosens her grip on control, lets things happen. No plan, no worries. But the other girl, the one that lives in the US time zone…She’s scared. She tries to hold on tightly to her ever-slipping grip on control. She panics, worries. Tries to amount to unrealistic expectations but fails.
As I lay awake here in my wooden bunk (top bed!) I grow excited to see what this foreign (but familiar) land may offer me. Its 4 am, is Starbucks open yet??
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Well, after eating every thing in my American sight, I certainly put back on any weight I lost plus some. I'm at an all time high of just over 150 L-Bs! AND I go to the gym (also a first) almost every day! What the F?? I've cut back drinking and started eating better but for some strange strange reason, its much easier to put on the weight than to lose it! But I digress...