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balance (2): May 2005

Saturday, May 28, 2005

chok dee

if there is one thing i have learned about life it's that you need to make balance. i guess my own personal spiritual beliefs align with something like taoism. i think everyone was born into the world with certain things to cripple them. the idea is to learn how to have a happy life despite these things. for balance, life throws you a bone every now and then, and that is luck. if you are not looking you will miss it, and that is bad luck indeed.

my personal hindrance is that every single person i have ever been close to in my life invariably does an about-face at some point, and turns into someone else, a stranger, and sometimes not just a stranger but an enemy... which is an uncertain at best and rather lonely at worst existence. but my luck is financial, which isn't too bad a bone. it's not all luck... a lot of it is hard work, especially of late... but the fact is whenever things start to look even slightly perilous, something always comes through for me. when i was little a fortune teller told me i would always be lucky with money, and it's true... not a ton of money, but enough... but 'o', for instance, insists that no matter how hard he works, he has never been able to find a job yet that actually pays him. as i have witnessed this myself i can vouch for its truth (now he is training with an artist friend to design jewelry for export, but he still has not had one paycheck since i got to thailand). but 'o' has several advantages, among which are a large group of friends, a big personality that endears people to him despite another lack (of education or intelligence, i haven't decided which yet) and of course he has a sugar mama girlfriend of sorts.... my little brother insists that he is crippled by lack of money himself. he makes okay money, but his family sucks most of it up (kids are expensive). yet, he has that family, which bring him untold amounts of happiness. my friend 'k' seems to have everything- a rich family, gorgeousness, a free spirit... but she ends up with really really bad men, who suck the life out of her when she opens herself to them. and so it goes....

it's when you are unable to maintain that balance in your life that things go wrong. these people grow old and bitter, they flounder and mourn. they accuse and regret. they recline and wish and denigrate. not me. no thanks.

to maintain my balance though, i need to start taking care of my body. for the 3rd time in 2 weeks i have gotten some kind of food poisoning. last week i vomited for 2 days straight, into a trash can held under me by a very patient and kind 'o', who rubbed my back and cleaned up afterwards. today i have been in the bathroom more often than not with horrific stomach cramps. but (for balance), i did manage to have a lovely night out of the deal- slurping oysters with fried onions and garlic and sprinkled with herbs last evening. washed down with a beer and looking over the banglamphu street life that i love, at dusk, with kittens scratching at my leg for a spare morsel and toothless men hawking dried squid and guava on the corner. anyway i need yoga at dawn at wat po (temple) or aerobics at the park on the chao phraya (river). and no more smoking and drinking! bangkok air is barely breathable as it is!

my brilliant idea of last week has actually panned out, to my utter and complete surprise. i am still reeling in shock in fact. i decided to offer to the american companies who keep emailing me for jobs that i would accept about half of my normal salary if they were amenable to my telecommuting from thailand. i figured i was an idealistic fool and nothing would come of it, but in actuality my inbox is now overflowing with eager takers. i have already managed to land two contracts. with them, even if i work only ten hours a week, i still make more than i would make working full time in bangkok... and the clincher is i can actually go live wherever i want and do the work, as long as i have an internet connection. i just happen to have a very valuable skillset at this point in time... kind of funny because i think my work is incredibly easy, but hey, i am not going to argue... and thus, my luck continues to flow in and life is good. i told my bangkok job they would have to allow me to telecommute as well or they are history. i hope they choose the former though because i like the guys and they bring a little drama of sorts into my life, for now. it's nice to see the "hi-so" side of things.

missing 'x'... it seems like every time i turn on the tv or radio there is a sappy movie or a love song about the loss of some connection with some person who someone had thought would fulfill all their needs. it's sad but at the same time comforting that this loss is a human thing, shared by all. i have humiliated myself several times over now by begging him to at least be my friend again, but he won't relent (doesn't help that in a particularly angry mood my honesty flares up and i call him bad names), and i have to let him go but i simply am unable yet. i am sure every single reader out there knows what i am talking about and how badly it sucks. but at least i know he is alive and happy and sometimes that is enough to throw the balance back towards the good side of things. and i am happy too.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

run

on a wild manic bent i awoke this morning at a painful 4am, and gathering scattered dream remnants and a disheveled 'o', hopped into a speeding taxi in pouring rain towards morchit for the government bus to aranyaprathet. or more specifically, cambodia. what a luxury to leave bangkok, with countryside laid out like a buffet to sample along the way. huge expanses of deep green rice fields. fruit farmers with laden trucks offering juicy pickings. kittens and dogs and chickens and birds. plump clouds hanging sparsely in a cartoonish blue sky. a stray ox. wooden shacks. fresh air!!!! the trip is 4 1/2 hours each way, during which i decided dean r. koontz really isn't such a bad writer after all, and snored on 'o's shoulder.

cambodia is dusty and plaintive and busy. poipet is no longer the no man's land it was once though, and no scruffy children yanked on my sleeves and tried to charge me for holding the umbrellas they were following me with as in days of yore. i tried to explain to 'o' what a hassle it used to be to get through the border, but he looked skeptical as he perused the street of (relatively) polished shops. the only indication that poipet was the same old poipet were the sweaty, overdressed men pulling large horse carts full of goods, and the little ladies with the scarves and brown skin sitting with baskets of fresh french bread loaves. one polite man did insist on following us with excessively friendly chatter, and i kept having to snap at 'o' to stop being so damned trusting. but then somehow i managed to get into and out of cambodia (sadly, without 'o', whom i wanted to give a peek, but his visa turns out to be just as expensive as mine) and the usually mean customs official just gave me one discerning eye down his nose and stamped my passport without extorting the usual illegal fee. i have no idea what's going on over there. i even sat down and had an iced mocha something latte...

grumpy because he had to stand like a forgotten puppy on the thai side while i frolicked in cambodia, 'o' pouted at my visa stamp and made me promise to buy him a souvenir checked scarf (they wear them on their heads in cambodia). we scoured the large market on the aranyaprathet side in the boiling heat... stumbling across fried spiders, secondhand t-shirts with chinese drawings on them, stalls full of assorted weapons, and piles of shoes. we headed down one of the small sidestreets at the peripheral of the market and found ourselves in a weird ghetto, with a dirty boy in oversized shirt and pajama bottoms throwing us suspicious side glances and sneaking sniffs of some sort of turpentine from a greasy plastic bag in a shady corner. the other shy, brown faces eyed us curiously and marveled at my white skin. we had just sat down to some fried rice and a huge bottle of pepsi in a dark tented area, when we realized it was time for the bus back, and hurriedly grabbed a tuk tuk to the station right as a huge storm came crying down.

sweet sleep in the rain, thai music overhead, free cookies in the belly. 'o' and i vow to move out of bangkok at some point soon, whether it's together or otherwise. 5 hours later including the 2 buses home from morchit, and we fell exhausted into a bed, feeling as though we were still dreaming nice dreams.

Monday, May 16, 2005

live

it seems that having been gotten rid of by a certain egomaniacal (but very prolific and successful etc.) person who dominated my life recently is turning out to be one of the best things that has happened to me, as much as i have resisted that truth. i mean, not only do i no longer have to go home to someone who treats me like utter shit, but i don't have to feel bad for being "just a white girl", or feel like i have to live up to anyone's limited understanding of what a person or a life should be, or feel bad for showing emotion or having a (gasp!) human heart, or being simple and stupid and utterly uncreative at times, or feel degraded by anyone who thinks that anyone who has different ideas than their own is simply wrong, or just feel like things are twisted and sick and that everybody sucks because the person i was closest too sucked most of all. for the first time in my life i feel free!...

funny that that is probably exactly how that person feels, but all's well that ends well, for sure.

i just hope i am not turning into someone similar and treating the people around me similarly. sometimes i feel like it is an irrepressible human trait to do so. but i don't think 'o' would (for instance) ever say that i was putting him down. i spend most of my time trying to lift him up... i really do try to motivate people to look a little deeper, be a little more tolerant, think a little bit differently. (nah, i am okay -it can never be said of me that i don't make the effort to be diplomatic or to understand).

now that i myself am back on my feet, what i want is to live happily, with good people around when i want them and placid solitude when i don't. i do not want to work in bangkok in an office for long- i want to be in clean, open air with animals and plants and music around. i want to be able to have days where i lock myself up to produce and others when i am free to laze about- but both at my own beck and call. i do not want a domesticized relationship with anyone- no husband or kids thanks (yuck), though i wouldn't mind seeing my family occasionally. i want to live in thailand amongst the thais but not live on a thai salary. i still want to travel to exotic places, because i need my fix of novelty, but i no longer expect other countries or people to fill any space absent in me, as i have learned that people are human everywhere, every place is essentially the same....i want to contribute to the world, but not necessarily to people (other than those who give me a good reason to help out). and i want to leave my mark in my own way, not in ways that are expected of me.... and well, there's more, but i am anticipating sipping a frosty, hopefully alcoholic beverage while perusing circus-like streetlife, and don't feel like elaborating just now.

always in my life i have gotten exactly what i want (except maybe for that episode with jim french in high school, who didn't take kindly to my "will you go out with me, yes or no" letter :) ). sheer willpower can get a person far.... it is this concept i keep trying to convey to the poorer of my Thai friends, though it usually falls on deaf ears. but me- i have had a lot more time lately to think about what it is that i truly want, and how exactly to get it. and eureka! i feel it a-coming, if i don't jinx myself by thinking i am too lucky.

Monday, May 09, 2005

"see you when you see me"

for some reason this week all of my now much-hippified-after-7-months-or-more-on-an-island friends are all drifting into bangkok and onto planes home to make money. i feel guilty and stupid that i am not among them, but also a bit relieved (after all, i don't have a rich family to go back to). 'f' from ko chang, a lovely little 22-yr. old blonde girl, gave me all the gossip from the last year and a half since i have been gone. every single girl i knew there with a thai boyfriend has gotten pregnant and been dumped immediately after having the kid- what a bunch of idiots! (both the abysmally irresponsible thai boys and the dismally idealistic farang girls.) she and i are the only survivors, and we gazed at each other in touchy-feely adoration all night... i love her like a sister, though not without a bit of guilty attraction as well. she is headed to cornwall, where she will live in her newly purchased camper and sell various knicknacks from thailand on the beach... silly 'w' and goofy 'c' from ko phangan have to my great disbelief become a disgustingly perfect couple- despite the fact that he already has two wives and two children, and they put me off so much that i couldn't stoping gaping long enough to have a normal conversation with them. you just never know people as well as you think you do- never in my life would i have paired them. she's headed off to germany where she drives a cab and writes book and neglects the shaving and deodorizing of her armpits. 'w' is going back to ko phangan, where he is reforming his life- no longer selling weed, playing r&b, or feeling trapped in his marriage, apparently!... 's', from NYC, is staying here, but in order to keep her job as a personal assistant to the royal family (not an enviable position as she is always being scrutinized) popped by to beg me to forge a degree for her so that she could continue to get paid and not have to go back to the evil US... and since i feel the same i could only oblige (and a damn fine job i did of it too!)...'k', my very hopelessly drug-ified hippie friend ('god' all my real friends really are hippies!) with a great big heart, is reluctantly going home to reconnect with his little girl and see if he can make money to come back and live long term in some legitimate form. we got really wasted at DDM and danced all night long last night as his farewell.

sigh. there are far more people that i love in this country than there ever were in the US.


happy hippies

and then there's 'o'. we have come full circle the past week from hating each other and tearing each other's hair out to lounging companionably over lavish meals that we can't afford to frantically making love between bored readings of the newspaper or staring like zombies at the horrible productions that pass for movies on our one english movie channel. i am learning some things.... i have read a lot about thai/farang relationships lately and the different ways in which each views them. thais think that taking care of someone is the number one way to express love, and rather than feel used by someone who is leeching off of you, you would feel proud that you helped them and they would remain devoted to you for doing so. thais are not so romantic, at least not in the same way as farangs are. they don't expect much from each other beyond monetary and sexual compensation. it's americans who have been brought up to have a sense of individuality, to work hard for themselves, and to hope for someone who meets a rigid standard of qualifications we carry around in our heads (mostly idealistic). this understanding does not prevent me from feeling like 'o' is a hopeless loser at times, but it does help me to empathize a little more as to where he is coming from anyway. since i gave him a deadline of may 15 to do...something... he has been wracking his brains and being really quite snappy and distracted with me overall, because he is so hung up on trying to find something to do amongst all the jobs he can't have at his age (and skin tone) and all the businesses he can't start with no money. i have realized we both feel better if i just give him a break, help him out but not excessively, and just quietly prod him now and then into action. things are starting to get better.


'o' before


'o' after- what have i done? :)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

werk

today was the first official day of work (work permit in progress so not really working so much as checking it out)- hauling my laptop on the khlong boat across town in a scraggly hippie bag which i didn't have the foresight to replace with something more professional that fit my (widescreen) computer. as usual, where i am ecstatic to get a job, i am much less so actually going to work. it's especially difficult when i haven't worked full-time in an office (with a short exception in colorado) for over 3 years. i hate it- i get distracted by the other people, the annoying politics, i freeze to death in the artificial air conditioned air, worry about every little aspect of my demeanor and appearance, fixate on the clock. if only they knew how much more productive i am at home! which led me to think, what the hell am i doing? i left america partly because i was so tired of the corporate mentality (despite my not really being immersed in it for so long), and here i will be working full time in one of the more corporate offices i have seen in thailand, and not contributing much of anything to the world like i had hoped to do here. sigh. if i am going to work full time in an office, shouldn't it be in america where i make ten times the money, so at least i can go home to good cable tv or to a snazzy gym or drinking at a nice club? so i can at least be contented by the rising balance of my bank account promising future freedom? shouldn't i have my own office or the freedom to telecommute as usual? ... it's hard to say really, we'll see how long i last here. i really like the people more than i like most american co-workers. i mean at least they are thai and german, so they have something of interest to bring to the table. and i love my work, surprisingly, when i can figure out what it is that i am doing (hard to get any sort of clue from a thai client).

i told an interviewer from the disney corporation to fuck herself when she called up from hollywood yesterday and exemplified everything i really hate about uptight pretentious american middle managers, so i am not on the right track to going home just yet anyway. :)

in the past week or so i threw 'o' out on his ass with all his stuff and turned off my phone for a couple of days, because i was tired of his uselessness and apathy. he came crawling back when he realized he had no other option (even his family won't help him), and of course i couldn't say no despite all my convictions otherwise...because...? guess i care about him. ugh. what a co-dependent relationship farangs end up having with thais (i am willing to bet i am not the only one with this problem). i can see it from his point of view- why go work in a hot sun or dark factory for $100/month when i make ten times that and will be paying the rent whether he stays or goes? it's sad. he has tried pretty hard since to find work, but there isn't much work for someone without a degree (he has a technical diploma), and the work there is is doled out by some of the most discriminatory bastards on the face of this earth (ie. they blatantly demand 25-year old girls for the positions, which 'o' is obviously not)- minimum wage is currently about 150 baht per day, or $75/month, and that might be the best he can hope for. if you have a degree, you might get $200 a month. lucky farangs can make much more simply by demanding it. he would rather hang out in air conditioning, watching cable, and making love with me. i suppose i can't blame him. i am starting to feel like this country needs a grand reorganization/re-education and i am just the one to give it to them- a dangerous frame of mind.

i am desperately in need of my medication, aka mary jane. i don't care what anyone thinks about that- i need it to balance my anxiety and without it i go quietly mad... sometimes not so quietly, and among the hopeless stupidities rampant in this country is the predominant one of their opinion on marijuana smoking. i need to move to a place where it has been legalized for medical use, and live amongst rational, peaceful people. meanwhile i have been reading up on gross detox programs for the liver, kidneys, and colon, in hopes that if i clean out the filth in my body somehow the inexplicable anxiety will go as well.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

may

you’re remarkably happy tonight, he says in not quite the same wording. shut up and drink, i snap. parker posey is on tv. 'o' keeps changing it to some documentary on a baby imprisoned with it’s mother (dammit). i step on him thai style when he complains about his aches. we laugh at the fact that his cousin has a new baby boy named ‘action’... it’s true though, i feel the world’s my oyster, i feel like everything is on the tip of my tongue and i am orgasming rhythmically under a slightly anxious surface. i even feel like creating, saving, flying.....ahem, yeah. i am also really drunk right now.

there’s a whole sad side which i hate to acknowledge, entailing the dismal loss of my inspiration and love (who doesn't feel this, though). i am just holding on to the fact that i am lucky! i read about death row and imagined myself (as my dad) imprisoned 23 hours a day and never being able to visit a strip club or pick up a sandwich in a shop anymore, let alone breathe seaside air or follow his heart. not that he probably would care about any of those things. i saw a reflection of my now-shriveled mom when she was young and beautiful in a movie with a handsome co-star. i imagined meeting old friends and family and being shocked by the fact that things change and they are not who i thought they were, because i don’t learn anything. i miss x until i am tied up in knots and feeling ill. somehow i degrade and end up pouting at the injustice of the world when i reflect on the fact that i bought a mop head called “black man” from a banglamphu department store which had a picture of a big-lipped jimbo on the front holding a bucket of cleaning materials. argh. shakes head violently and tries to snap out of it.

i am bi-polar, but i have a curious case in which i can feel two totally opposing viewpoints at the same time.

i celebrated the acquisition of a very interesting project with very interesting people (yay fun! at the asoke office with the cute people)..., with the buying of ot some nice clothes with which to get his own ass in gear. it hasn’t really worked but i am training him. chatuchak market made me murderous in the hot sun. i ordered a strawberry shake and scanned for baby animals. i bulimified an israeli lunch at shoshana’s- liver and onions, pita and hummus, mashed potatoes. 'o' scowled through it because he had asked a ritzy bar for a job and they told him he was too old. (i told him he should have told them to suck his hiney but he’s too nice.) we came home and since my internet addiction is being forcibly cured by a faulty connection, we had sex and got drunk and watched a dumb lovey movie and preached at each other (i preached no religion after which 'o' had guilty nightmares of buddhist ghosts all night) and i vehemently explained the facts of life as i knew them and my plans to save my world.

i am secretly in love with life, though under no illusion as to what life is.
howard marks. you can blame him today.

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