Beautiful skyline captured on my way to Bangkok
I’m guilty. I’ve neglected my blog and it needs to be revived. It’s not ready to rest in peace, so here I am breathing life into it. Life’s been hectic these days and my inspiration has been hiding, but somehow it’s random followers and new friends that are inspiring me to share my thoughts again. So, to you guys, a big thank you. I needed a friendly shove to find my voice again.
If you’ve been following me or poking around my blog, you’ll know I’m going through a transition and I’m not over Thailand. Did you notice I didn’t add ‘yet’ ? That was intentional. Anyhow, tonight I’m going down memory lane and sharing some of my Thailand firsts with you.
1. First spontaneous kiss
My first kiss was premeditated at the age of 16. It was like kissing a puppy who’d been chewing strawberry flavoured Hubba Bubba gum. My first spontaneous kiss was at the age of 18 on the beach; it was like kissing a snake that had been drinking Sang Som and Coke. Thankfully, kisses get sweeter with practice and I’m no longer kissing puppies or snakes!
2. First tattoo
Surprise! I got inked in Pattaya with a little purple heart with รัก (love) inside. At the time, I couldn’t read or write Thai, but four years later I could. When Thais asked me who I loved, I would tell them it was a secret, but over the years, I’ve realized it’s not someone – it’s someplace.
3. First cell phone
And if memory serves me right, it was a Motorola. I never had a cell phone in Canada and it wasn’t until I turned 22 and went abroad to study that I succumbed to being reachable 24/7. I quickly adapted and enjoyed being able to make last minute plans, discretely text in class, and notify my friends about the horrible traffic jams on the way to Bangkok. Oh, Bangkok traffic, you’ve made me late for so many things!
4. First bikini
My Thai boyfriend told me I looked like a grandma in my one-piece. Wearing a bikini on the beach was a big step out of my comfort zone. You’re probably thinking, “What?! This girl has a tattoo, and she has qualms about exposing skin on the beach?!” Well, yes, I’m an oxymoron. I would have been quite content to swim in my clothes like the locals. However, wearing a bikini made me get over my self-consciousness, and appreciate the body I have.
5. First time living on my own
While I was studying at college, I had Thai roommates, but once my semesters were over, I didn’t want to return to Canada, so I rented my own room in a building across from the campus condos. The room was nothing special, but it did have air-conditioning and an outside bathroom. Let me clarify, I had an outside bathroom with hot water and a flushing toilet. It was so small — perfect for multitasking! Anyhow, the point was, I had my own space for the first time in my life. I could come and go as I pleased, and stay up late. There was no one to answer to, but myself.
6. First time paying my own bills
I had bills to pay living in Thailand. I had expenses — I was all grown up. I finally got to experience college life living away from home.
7. First ‘real’ job after university
After university, I headed back to Thailand and began working full time as an English teacher. For the next six years, I continued to work in the education field and my last year and half was spent working at the university where I had been a student.
8. First time I believed I was enough
I was able to just be me. I no longer had to be the shy quiet girl. I discovered that I was capable of so much more than I thought. I no longer had to fit into someone else’s box. And I realized that even though I’m not ‘perfect’, I am enough.
9. First spontaneous same-sex kiss
My 29th birthday was a bit crazy. The highlights were tracking down a bouncer who took my passport , club-hopping til 6 AM, and kissing my girl friend. It was my first and last girl kiss. And although it wasn’t horrible, it wasn’t something I wanted to do again . Sorry, Katy Perry. I didn’t like it.
10. First time playing by my own rules
I was living on my own and paying my own bills, so of course I was playing by my own rules. For the first time, I took risks, did things that scared me, and didn’t think (too much) about what others thought of me.
February 5: What are you obsessively listening to?
For many of you, you won’t understand this, but I’ve never been one to obsessively listen to music. I usually listen to music when I’m cleaning, dressing up to go out, or just before bed. In the past, I used to put together playlists for the various parties I would host at my grand studio in Jirathit Mansion. It was all part of the fun preparation. After a trip to Villa for cheese, grapes, and all that fancy foreign food ex-pats tend to miss in Bangkok, I would sift through my songs on my laptop, and create the fitting background , keeping in mind the occasion and the guests. Usually, I would throw in some Thai songs from Big Ass and Potato, sprinkle in some Cranberries and Evanescence, add a twist of Gwen Stefani, a little bit of Bon Jovi, and top it off with Alicia Keys. My aim was to please everyone’s ears. Most of the time I think I did, and on the occasions that I tossed in a little too much R&B, my friends would happily take over as DJ, and/or drink a little more Sang Som. Food, music, and friends; it’s a simple recipe for good times and sweet memories!
I’ve decided not to play catch up, but rather list all the questions I’ve missed, and let you, the reader, choose the one you would like me to answer. I will only go back and answer one of the missed ones, and only if you ask me to. Come on…engage with me! I’m being brave sharing my thoughts with you, please do something more than just ‘like’ my post! So here goes:
January 27: Which art movement best describes you today?
January 28: How do you describe home?
January 29: What was the last TV show you watched?
January 30: What do you want to forget?
January 31: Who do you want to be?
February 1: What is your resolution for tomorrow?
February 2: Who do you live with?
February 3: On a scale of one to ten, how sad are you? Why?
February 4: Outside the weather is __________.
I’m beginning to realize that this 365 days of Q & A project isn’t so much about the questions as it is about reflection and being present. Do you ever have days where you can’t remember what you had for breakfast ? Are you too busy to stop, look, and listen? I know I’m guilty at times. So, everyday I will take the time to open my book, and ask myself a question, and most days I will share my answers here.
So, going back, what question would you like me to answer?
January 26: Today you needed more ______.
Sleep. Last night I stayed out past my curfew, and today I am suffering. Yes, I am 32 and give myself a curfew. If I’m not home by midnight, and sleeping by one o’clock, I know I am going to be off-balance the following day. And today, this was the case. Even after my morning coffee, I couldn’t lift the fog.
I met my student at nine o’clock and she was also complaining about lack of sleep, so we commiserated together. Over Vietnamese coffee and black tea, we discussed a TED talk; the importance of eight hours of sleep a night; why a sense of joy is important for sustaining lifestyle changes; and whether or not we should pursue our love interests.
Note: I was out watching a hockey game with my love interest last night, so my sleep deprivation was happily self-imposed.
January 25: What makes “you” you?
I have an inquisitive nature. I’m not afraid to ask questions. And I have a way of finding out the truth. Some share the truth with me openly while others hide it. But at the end of the day, I will know your story.
The other day, my landlord told me I was funny, and he didn’t mean in a funny ha ha way, but in a strange hmmmm way. So, naturally, I inquired. And he told me that I ask too many questions. Hmmm…isn’t it normal to want to know what day the garbage will be picked up? And how long the tenant before you lived in your apartment? And why the man upstairs sounds like an elephant? And why the girl across the hall is in grade 12, living alone, and coming home at three in the morning? I didn’t get all my answers, and he’s not the first to tell me that I ask too many questions.
My friends are often surprised by how much information I ascertain from someone in such a short time. And I am often surprised by how much information they will divulge to me. At times, I feel guilty because I don’t reciprocate. I’m not an open book; If you want to get to know me, you need to ask questions – the right questions. There is an art to asking questions. Your question is your springboard, and if you ask the right question, you will be able to dive into the deep end. But if you ask the wrong question or nothing at all, you’ll be stuck peering into the pool.
One of my favourite questions is a question that was proposed by my British friend at a retro bar in Thailand. As we enjoyed our cocktails, she leaned over the table and asked me, “What do you do when you ‘ave it?” This was the second time we had met, so I was caught off guard. I followed up with my own question. “Have what?” She replied, “You know,” and pumped her arms. I just laughed, but she wouldn’t let me off the hook. ”What do you do when you have a good time?” And she meant this in the most innocent of ways. Anyhow, I love this question because no one quite knows what to make of it, and the answer can be quite telling as to one’s character.
So…..what do you do when you ‘ave it?
At the moment, I have my own tutoring company, and make my own schedule. It’s a small business, but it’s rewarding to have built something on my own, and so satisfying to answer only to myself. It’s tough, too. It’s a one-woman show, and if I succeed or fail, it’s all my fault. I’m continually learning new ways to market myself, and reminding myself what I’m worth. It’s ironic, but it’s my students that help me with this the most. They are all savvy Japanese women in their early thirties that are either studying English or building a life in Victoria. In their home country, they are computer programmers, wedding planners, teachers, nurses…. They have left their jobs to pursue their studies in a foreign country. One has even left her family to pursue a new life and career in Canada. They all are truly inspiring, and I can’t help but feel that we aren’t that different. We’re all in new territory, feeling a little out of place at times, but still forging ahead.
And my dreams go beyond my tutoring company. But I’ve learned that it’s not always wise to share a dream until it comes to fruition. Sharing a dream gives you a false sense of accomplishment, and the fuel you have to chase it diminishes somewhat. So, for now, all I can say is that I will follow in the steps of many in my family, and become the captain of my own ship.
January 23: Do you need a break? From what?
At this very moment, I need sleep. So, I need a break from my ‘can’t sleep until the job is done’ attitude. I’m behind; it’s the 24th and will be the 25th by the time I finish this post, but I’m on January 23rd’s question. I’ve made a commitment to myself to answer every question for an entire year. And I’m going to stick with it because I want you to stick around. It’s weird to think I have followers. In real life, I would be freaked out, but in the virtual world it’s cool.
Sleep is taking over, so I will leave you with a picture from Insadong, Seoul. Koreans don’t usually dress like this, but wouldn’t it be cool if they did? But the men do wear make-up, just toned down a bit.
January 22: Are you seeking security or adventure?
Security. No….. wait…..maybe it’s adventure! I want both. I feel like I should be seeking security. I feel like I should be seeking stability. And I do want security and stability. I do want to walk along the path that leads somewhere and not anywhere. But every time I walk by a travel agency my eyes light up. As my eyes dance over the colourful advertisements for exotic destinations, I wrap my scarf a little tighter around my neck, and dream a little. Silver beaches, coconut juice, blue-blue water.
But maybe that isn’t such an adventure. Maybe that is my security. Somehow everything fell into place in Thailand, and for six years, I always felt certain that things would. I somehow knew that I would always find another job or another apartment, and that whatever drama I was going through would pass. My life wasn’t perfect, but even when things got a bit mucky, I continued to grow. I felt secure in Thailand.
In Canada, I feel uncertain. Maybe this is my adventure. Somehow I am not so sure everything will fall into place. I’ve always got one hand on my passport and the other’s flipping through the classifieds. Maybe this is what I need to embrace. I need to embrace this new adventure, and navigate this new world with an open heart and mind. Perhaps, in Canada, I can find security and adventure. And to be honest, I really wouldn’t want to settle for just one.
January 21: What are you looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to going for a run on Thursday.
Now, that the New Year is here, I should stick with at least one resolution and let my running shoes see the beautiful world outside my door. I live in a wonderful neighbourhood, just minutes from the ocean , temperatures are above freezing, and I’ve found a new running partner. So, I’ve run out of excuses not to run.
In the past, I enjoyed running as a solo activity, but in recent years, I’ve found it is a great way to connect with others. In Korea, my running buddies turned into wonderful friends, and their company and stories motivated me to keep going. On our runs, I learned about Korean history, film making, the ups and downs of marrying your opposite, and pushing your limits. These are things I would never have learned running solo along the river. And as I run along the ocean in Canada, I hope to learn new things and be inspired by the stories around me. And no matter how hard it is to get out there for a run, I know that I will come back a little wiser, and a little stronger.