Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I am alive and well in Ulan Bator and soon onwards to Beijing where I will have no facebook or blogger access and then I will try to write something more when I'm in Kazakhstan!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

my new houseguest and my travel plans

So, I got a cat.  She waltzed into my house in January and now we hang out. I went away for two weeks and she greeted me at my return, a little skinnier but fine. Among her good qualities are that she likes to explore things and is comfortable sleeping anywhere. Among her not-so-good qualities are all the times she kills lizards and leave their carcasses in the kitchens for the bugs to swarm on before I notice, but I don't really care. I'm going to miss her when I leave in two weeks!

My current post-Post itinerary: Burma>Guangzhou>Hong Kong>Beijing then ??? something around China or maybe Japan or maybe Mongolia. Three weeks later, fly to St. Petersburg (this is early April) then a full month and a half later, fly home from Berlin, doing something like the Napoleonic retreat except with more trains. Pretty sweet I think!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It seems that at some point in a travel blog's lifespan, the author stops seeing their own life as strange, and then they stop posting. I think this is why half of my blog subscriptions languish unupdated for 2-5 months. But here are some things that have happened since we last spoke.

1) A PiA fellow in Vietnam came to visit, and I suggested we have the authentic Southern Thai experience by going to Patong, perhaps the sleaziest slice of world I've ever seen, but something I felt we should do once. Mission accomplished:

This is pretty accurate as to what it looks like at night.
We met up with friends of another English teacher in my town.  Photos are Matt's, used without permission. Deal with it

We then took a day of recovery in Phang Nga. It was once again nice to see someone else's eyes widen at my strange town. The things I get used to really are completely out of this world.

2). My mom, dad and sister flew out to Bangkok to spend Winter holidays with me! We spent a day in Bangkok before heading to a resort near Khao Sam Roi Yot national park:
Before heading back to Bangkok for NYE:
and finally to Phang Nga, and the Heaven and Hell Temple, which remains among the strangest things I've ever seen.
Photos are Rebecca's no permissions DEAL

3. I went to D.C. to interview with the Foreign Service. I didn't get the job and I'm ok with that. I was going against people who were seriously more qualified than me. However the visit in general was awesome, just awesome. The party Friday in my opinion was one our best. D.C. north of U and south of K looks identical to how I left it but Mt. Vernon Sq. and Shaw are so different they look like a different city. The borders of upper-class D.C. are changing so rapidly it's like watching bamboo grow. I walked around listening to Homecoming and Heard 'Em Say, riding in the 5A from Dulles to Home -- well. Leaving it this time around was much harder. I also visited X, which reminded me exactly what was going on in my life 11 months ago when it took me 4 seconds to decide that I was ready to drop everything and move to Thailand, and also why teaching Kindergarten spoke to my heart so. Absolutely the best part of my visit was giving a powerpoint presentation to the kinders (framed like a storybook) about my time in Thailand. I told them I was 12,000 mi away (I was wrong it's about 9k), and that I biked to school every day and my now seven year old buddy looked at me like I was crazy and said "how you gon bike 12 thousand miles ev-ree day!?!" And noticed that my new school had "jungle, and there's trees everywhere, and, and there's mountains." Totally.

4. I went to Korea to visit our new family friend Quinlin, who took me around town! We saw sacred ancient tourist rituals performed,

 stood in front of palaces shadowed by mountains,
 and doorways,
and watched the sunset over a fort.

5) I read books and listened to new albums. A) Catch-22: It was very good. I was also reading a bootleg copy that I bought in Vietnam which seemed just right. B) The complete short stories of Flannery O Connor. I first encountered her in a short story collection I picked up at random from the MLK library last year, and "A View of the Woods" left me shaking. Many of her stories are good but after a while they start to run together into a stream of nightmares where the endings, developments and first three lines are all quite similar. I think she's better read in many sittings rather than the entire oeuvre in a week. But that's life. C) I started but did not finish "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" and "The Last Tycoons;" the first didn't fully capture my attention and the second was really big so when I left it in D.C. and will finish it someday. D) Re-read Blood Meridian. Probably my favorite book. The first time around, the Judge captured me but this time I thought more about what Glanton is. I have a lot to say about it but I don't want to give anything away. E) just started Underworld so far so good.
Albums: I) The Chronic. I see why it was/is important but it felt pretty dated, even next to Enter the 36 chambers. Some real gems though: Let me Ride for instance. II) The King of Limbs. an album I like but I wonder how we would view it without the Radiohead mystique. III) The College Dropout. Dan's right: if it's at all possible kanye is underrated. The album is superb. IV) Late Registration: Taking me a little longer to get into. V) This is Happening, LCD Soundsystem's last, an album I have been putting off for reasons I myself am not entirely clear on. Very enjoyable, has solidly entered my running playlist. Home is a great track. Still, All My Friends is their moment, like Everything in its Right Place is Radiohead's.

6) I distilled my frustration with the pro-choice arguments popping up around facebook today into a piece about the Komen/Planned Parenthood falling out. It's really difficult to empathize across political boundaries. But if Ward's research, which I cite therin, is to be believed, it's easier for conservatives. I have no idea what that means or why it would be.

Take the GREs, hopefully get a job, travel and then America.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

In 2011, I

1) Touched the ground in 11 countries: not including airports/layerovers/visa crossings, 8. 2) Read 44 books, 40 since June. 3) Ran about 1032 miles, for a not particularly good average of 19.8 per week (40% of the total came in April, November and December). 4) Laughed, taught, lost my cool, messed around with, fell off desks, fell asleep, saw growth happen, got praised, praised, got humbled, at/with/in front of/for/by students. 5) went with the flow, became debris in the river. 6) at major points, changed course, or jumped out of the water. 7) chased a water bottle through a waterfall, emerged with leeches on my feet. 8)Schemed and dreamed on subways and planes and country roads at night. 9) broke two ipods, two kindles and a cell phone. 10) Saw my life weighed, and it came to about 75 pounds in two backpacks and a duffel bag as I left D.C. 7 months ago.

I'm returning for an interview with the Foreign Service in two weeks. D.C. Crew and Dan and Madeleine and Faiza, I will see you soon! I miss you. I just got back from running, and will grandma shuffle to the water refilling station, drink a baht worth, shuffle back, shower and eat, apply to jobs, and be in bed at 10, sleep 9 hours, wake to roosters.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tomorrow, I'm meeting my mom, dad and Rebecca in Bangkok for like 10 days, should be sweet! Maybe Rebecca can guest entry while I'm there. In the mean time, here's a little of what I've been up to lately:

Friday, December 9, 2011

I had a birthday party! At the restaurant I eat at like thrice a week:
My kindle screen broke and momentarily: IT'S THE END OF THE WORLD! But my family is visiting in two weeks and the replacement is free; I can study Thai and read a book of travel poetry in the meantime. I love the device but sturdiness isn't its selling point, this is the second I've killed in 6 months.

A few weeks ago I had the rare situation  of teaching all 17 classes in a single week, but things have come up and I suspect it will be like Mewtwo: seen only once. Classes, especially with my older students, have been going really well. I got each class to write a rap song, and some students were pretty hesitant about it but one class got as far as "yo, yo, he is a good man/I want him in my hand/you and I in Wonderland." The following week I made up a lesson about the RZA's "Grits," which I chose in part because it's a great song and in part because it's about family, growing up poor and food, and I was hoping the kids could relate to it. They got that it was about food, but the connection between the great meal your mom cooked you as a kid and saying no to a life of crime was a bit more difficult to illustrate.

This week, I've been surprised at how difficult it is for them to describe an item of food (and then guess the item based on classmates' descriptions); they don't have English vocabulary like sweet, salty, sour, soup, noodles, etc. But I must have tapped something, because I had some seriously full attention. I read this book called "Not-For-Profit," reviewed here, by Martha Nussbaum about how the socratic method, hands on learning, the liberal arts and the arts themselves prepare us for democratic and cosmopolitan citizenship, and I've been thinking ever since about how to develop lessons that encourage creativity. One of the best things about teaching, as a job, is that it engages the creative mind, and like Dewey said:"The difference between play and what is regarded as serious employment should be not a difference between the presence and absence of imagination, but a difference in the materials with which imagination is occupied."

 We had a big Thanksgiving feast at my house for PiA Southern Thailand and friends! How lovely. Some of us went to Kuala Lumpur and had late nights for a good long weekend. Before that, I went to a wedding my co-teacher took pictures:
Because we're in Asia

bride and groom.

Tomorrow I'm going to bike out so Similan and go snorkeling. Lastly, this is how I feel about Occupy Wall Street.