Thursday, August 31, 2006
also, happy birthday, jacks.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
having this useless resume in my hand, i puttered over to the jellybean daycare center in metrotown and dropped it off, just for kicks. i was exactly one block away from the mall entrance when olga, from jellybean, phoned and asked me to come back for an interview. we clicked. she liked. i have a job. i haven't said yes, but it's mine for the taking. she's dying for me to take it. there are three other people vying for the job, which has to be filled by the 5th, so i have to let her know by tomorrow, but she wants to give it to me. 'what's so special about you, rachel?' she says to me, not in the 'why should i give you this job' sense but in the 'why do i feel overwhelmingly compelled to give you this job' sense. i love Jesus? i have my new pink shirt on? i don't know. the favor of the Lord is upon me? something like that.
i thought i'd be desperately struggling for weeks to find work. to be honest, the thought of lazing around, half-heartedly looking for a real job and picking up shifts at reds, kind of appealed to me. God only knows, though, what's in store. this job feels dropped into my lap; i feel compelled to take it. 'you go on upstairs and thank the Lord,' says my mother.
Monday, August 28, 2006
does it have carving on the blade?
can it be brandished in such a menacing fashion?
(that notice on the mirror is something to the effect that we are all grown children, and can we please stop leaving our crap lying around everywhere. the articles on the counter are evidence of unclaimed crap)
in other news, i took koala for a jog in the cool, sensibly-temperatured vancouver evening. myself, i have been jogging in thailand. koala, she has been lying her fat self around. here she is having a bit of a tough time, but looking immensely pleased with herself.
my mother has made great strides in moving her belongings out of the-room-in-which-i-now-live (not to be confused with 'my bedroom,' which has been awol since at least the mt waddington house. this will, at best, become the room in which i and my belongings co-habitate with the sewing machine and some spare bedding and a roll of tinfoil). this means that 'a place for everything and everything in its place' is now a viable reality, if not an actual fact.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
i'm having trouble re-adjusting. i can and do spend close to an hour, from shower to last touch of make-up, getting myself ready to go out, though i don't know why. i still love to shop (granted, it'll take time before i'm willing to spend $15 on a shirt again). i'd rather sleep in than get up, and i have a hard time reading my Bible on any regular and meaningful basis. how, then, have i changed, and why is it so hard to be here, now?
i ran into a girl today who i haven't seen since we were almost roommates back in october. at seventeen, nat had spent a year in africa, and she says it took her four months to return to 'normal.' sam dyck, mobilization coordinator for mbmsi, asked me upon my return what concrete actions i would take to ensure that the changes that had been effected in me did not dissipate, so that i would not, in short, 'return to normal.' this is a difficult question to answer, since i cannot clearly discern the changes. i can't label them and categorize them and file them away, to be saved for posterity and trotted out as mementos of my trip.
i don't know how i'm different, but i know that i am. i am confused and troubled, and completely dissatisfied with my life as it stands. i know that the most fertile stretches of our journeys are the ones that we spend wrestling with God, jacob-style, but that hardly makes for a good night's sleep. i ache to become comfortable again. i pray God i won't.
Friday, August 25, 2006
i'm not sure how often i'll be blogging these days. i'd like to keep it up, but i'm frankly not planning on doing anything interesting. still, all my blogging friends manage to make their lives sound interesting, and my feelings won't really be hurt if everyone stops reading, because i won't know, right? so consider this the close to a chapter.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
aside from getting rip-roaringly drunk, i did the only other thing i knew would completely overwhelm my senses and help me pass the time: i went to mbk. the enormous mall did not disappoint, and for a few hours and a few hundred baht, i forgot how completely wretched i am. i was able to laugh at the 'berger king' and the 'grossery store.' now it is 2:30 in the am. i would dearly love to sleep on the plane, so i am awake now, trying to forget what i am leaving behind and focus on what i am coming home to. i am more than ready to come home, but nowhere near ready to leave.
my plane departs in less than six hours.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
every morning just before class starts, the students gather in front of the flag and line up in their classroom groups. they sing the national anthem together, and then recite prayers to buddha. those stalwart figures you see with their hands to their sides or behind their backs are our boys. they are exempt from praying to the buddha by virtue of their status as Christians, but i often wonder what their classmates think of this, and how they respond when questioned. this is yet another one of those things i'll never know, because i don't speak thai.
the national anthem, besides being sung before class, is also played over the loudspeaker at 8:00. this is not just a school function; everywhere in thailand, loudspeakers on trucks or posted on streets, radio stations and television, all play thailand's national anthem at precisely 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. wherever one happens to be at that moment, one is expected to drop everything and stand at attention. traffic will sometimes even come to a halt, as people pay homage to their country and king.
other things you might not know about thailand:
before a movie is played in the theaters, a special video honoring the king is run. once again, everyone stands at attention.
when you fold money, you fold it with the king's face on the outside. if you drop money, stepping on it is a jailable offence (you're putting your foot on the likeness of the king's head).
it is considered rude to pick your teeth in public. picking your nose is perfectly acceptable.
every road worth mentioning has a meridian, because there are no functioning crosswalks. one only has to dodge traffic coming from one direction at a time, resting on the meridian in the middle. you are permitted to cross if you probably won't get hit.
the reigning rule of the road is 'don't get hit.' slightly less prominant is 'try not to hit anyone else.'
people drive on the left-hand side.
many driver's licenses are purchased, not earned.
people swim in the ocean fully-clothed, and usually only in the evening. when they sit on the beach, they do so under a host of umbrellas, and they sit facing inwards towards each other, not towards the sea.
you eat with a fork and spoon, using the fork to push the food onto your spoon. you can use your spoon to cut things, if strictly necessary. my house has one butterknife, which i use when no one is around. i call it 'going savage.'
eggs and milk can be left out on the counter, no problem. cereal, however...THAT goes in the fridge.
thai people were voted the 'best-smelling people group' in the world. they shower several times daily.
no one kisses in public. if you must show affection, you put your face close to someone else's face, and sniff them.
friends of the same gender group can and will walk down the street hand-in-hand.
you never touch someone else's head.
that concludes our lesson in thai culture, 101. class dismissed.
yesterday, everyone took me to this waterpark on top of a massive mall in bang na...it was supposed to be a surprise until, i guess, the day before, but then no one ended up telling me, so when the fallses came to pick me up yesterday morning, there i was still in my jammies, drinking coffee.
today i ate a bowl of soup that tasted like human spit.
that's about all.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
this is my taxi. there's no cushion on that bit that i sit on, and going over bumps at high speeds makes me want to cry. luckily, having so much weight on the back slows the driver down, so we rarely go anywhere at high speeds...
this is apilak in his happy place (note my severely mosquito-bitten legs...i look like i have the pox)...
if i carry him around until he's fake-sleeping, and then sit down and put him in his leg-cradle, he'll open one eye and look around, decide this is an acceptable resting place and that he is still being a burden (he lives to encumber), and then go to sleep for real. this leaves my hands free to read a book or something.
yesterday, karen took me out for dinner-and-debrief to this little mexican food (mmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm) place in pattaya...pattaya is one of the prostitution capitals of thailand, and i had never been there, particularly not at night...i'm still trying to process it all, but it's one thing to read about it in books, and another thing entirely to see teenaged girls lingering, scantily clad, in front of bars, or walking through the streets hand-in-hand with a farang twice their age...
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
the woman who inexplicably shows up on sunday afternoons to iron the boys' school clothes has a little dog named ninja, who is pretty much the cutest thing since kirby (you all know who i'm talking about...that video game where the pillow would eat things and spit them out at other things)...
only in thailand can you bring your dog (or infant child, or husband) to work with you.
the older kids at wat samet, particularly the ones in my classes, are pretty used to having a farang on the premises now, although they all still stop whatever they're doing and stare when brian's big green truck drives into the school. the younger ones, however, just can't get over it. every so often, they'll congregate in little clumps outside my doorway, and dare each other to go in and say 'hello.' sometimes, one of them will come in willingly, bravely, hand held out to be shaken. other times, they'll spend ten minutes trying to shove each other inside...
the boys had made a batch of beaded bracelets to sell to the Full Sail team, and the team leader, geoff, has requisitioned a whole batch more, promising to sell them when he gets back to california. a sight more profitable and less wearying (which we all condone, since they're all still sickish) than selling popcorn in the market, the boys have taken to bracelet-making like they were born to it...
i may be coming home with a batch myself, if bracelet fever holds. they make excellent gifts for your nieces!!!!
Sunday, August 13, 2006
and then, because they're also kind of mine...
it's getting close to the end, and i'm dying to be home. this has become my life. it seems like i've known the fallses forever; it's perfectly natural that tassanee sanchez would hug me every time she sees me; rice actually is a proper breakfast food. these are my comfortable, familiar surroundings. still, something is missing, and whether that's solitude, or it's rest, or it's joel or family or people who i've actually known forever, it's time for me to go home. i've said a million times and i'll say again that if i could take the boys, i'd come home in a second. that being said, thoughts of leaving are both pleasant and unsettling. could you leave this face...?
or this one...?
there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace...
i feel that my time is coming to tear and to uproot, and i'm not entirely ready...
Saturday, August 12, 2006
the long story short is that i had to order pizza over the phone, because the boys were hungry, and i am not cooking for five boys whilst holding a baby who won't sleep. so i'm ordering, half in thai, and i don't know my phone number off by heart, and the woman doesn't understand 'wait a second' and so she hangs up on me, so i have to phone her back and do the whole thing over with apilak screeching all the while (he promptly shut up as soon as i was off the phone), and then when i sent bun and dao with a thousand baht to pick up the 700B pizza, the guy at the place told them that it was 1700 baht, and bun came back to fetch me and my purse, and so i wrapped the baby (who was screeching again) and left golf and max and june to watch the house, and booked it the six or so blocks to the pizza place, hauling this baby who is suddenly quite heavy, only to find that it was, in fact, 700B, and the guy was retarded (not literally, but...well...you know), and that it wasn't even ready.
in other news, it was thai mother's day, and so the lot of us took ganniga out for lunch, only she thought we were going out for june's birthday (which kind of we were, but not really), and she was all pleased and cried a little bit and apparently, in her twenty-eight years (or so) of motherhood, no one has ever honored her on mother's day, which is kind of tragic.
so, for all you mothers out there who are still in yesterday (that is, everyone in north america), happy mother's day!!!!!!!!!
Friday, August 11, 2006
it's friday, and my day off, so i took a bus into bangkok to do some shopping. the bus (read: eight passenger van) was packed with university students heading home for the weekend. those who had had classes this morning were still in their prim, short-sleeved white button-down shirt, neat black skirt and shoes uniformery, and the rest sported variations on the knee-length-shorts/t-shirt combination that is the thai woman's wardrobe. gung, our local shopping expert, directed me towards siam square, which includes the siam paragon, the siam center, and the siam discovery (all of these are shopping malls). i could not have been more delighted. everything was in english. i didn't have to ask people where everything was, because i could read the signs and figure it out myself, like a grown-up. the first thing i found on my own was a latte --------------------------->
it was everything i dreamed it would be, and more. this is me in the siam paragon (rocking my own knee-length-shorts/t-shirt combo), a spacious, air-conditioned dream of a mall, five stories high. the siam center was similar, and i can only assume the same of the siam discovery, because after i'd hit up these two, i headed to the mbk (which MUST stand for Mall of Bangkok, or something)...the mbk is easily as big as metrotown (both parts) as far as square footage per floor, but it's eight stories high, and the stores are all packed cheek by jowl. it's like our own little bang saen market, only a brazillion times bigger, and with air con. i almost screamed a little bit when i walked in. each storey is designated to a particular form of merchandise, so finding roughly what you want is easy. finding exactly what you want is near impossible, since the stores are four across (picture an ordinary shopping mall, and you're walking down the center floor bit, which usually has gaps surrounded by glass walls that children press their faces against and sometimes there are escalators, and on either side of you there is a store...now take away that center floor bit with its gaps and its escalators, and put in two more rows of stores...now add a million thai people and a handful of overwhelmed farang. that's mbk). it's the only time in my life i haven't combed a strange mall from top to bottom, end to end. i'm just grateful to have gotten out of there alive.
in addition to my latte, i had a double-cheese and jalepeno bagel with cream cheese (making it, i suppose, triple-cheese), and then later i stumbled upon the cream and fudge factory, which is not quite what it sounds. it's an ice-cream joint, where you walk up to the nice girl with the pad of paper and say, for example, that you would like chocolate ice cream with tiny chocolate chips, banana bits, and roasted macadamia nuts in it (which is, in fact, what i wanted) and then you will watch while they throw a largish scoop of ice cream on a frozen counter and mix in your chosen goodies. then they call you madam, as though you were the duchess of york, or something. do we have cream and fudge factories in north america? i know we have cold stone (in the states), which i think amounts to much the same thing...
and also, i saw a lady in a burkha.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
and here's dao, 'cause i just love him....
and as a side note, our youth group has been running for maybe a month and a half now, and we've had 19 kids come to Christ, which i think is kinda alright ;)
and then here are two of my star pupils
and here is the calender which used to say when i was leaving...one night max sat down beside me, cut out a square of paper, slathered it in glue (all the while, replying 'i don't know' to my 'what are you doing?'s), and then pranced over to cover the 'rachel leaves.' then he turned and asked impishly, 'you go when?'. the boys proceeded to point out, with ineffable thai logic, that the bird in the picture above the month is not flying, neither therefore can my airplane fly, so i can't go...
and then here's dao again, fast asleep on the floor...
which leads me to today's adventures. it was universally decided that the boys, in their debilatated state, should stay home from school today (let me side note: brian's car is again in the crapper [aka 'the shop'], which meant that we would be songthaewing to school this morning, and if there's one thing that my pleasant little boys positively balk at, it's songthaewing to school, so they were DOUBLY pumped to have a holiday). yesterday, they all looked like death warmed over (until it was time for bed, at which point they roused themselves enough to play a round of 'stick canada stickers on rachel without her noticing,' which is a really difficult game, because i'm a ninja at noticing stuff) but today, after sleeping in til 6:55 and laying around for a while, they'd perked up a bit. dr. aree, the boys' fabulous, benevolent (free) doctor phoned to say that she could see them today, so karen and i hauled the lot of them in (apilak included, if only to get him out of p'ganniga's hands so she'd HAVE to rest). they seemed fine, and most of them deny illness of any sort, so we felt a little foolish, but now they're all on antibiotics, and dr. aree is concerned about max, so we were justified (though we'd rather look foolish). she says max has fluid in his lungs, and that it may develop into pneumonia (most dreaded of words) and so to keep an eye on him. what does that mean? i keep an eye on all of them, all the time! they cough!!! are they coughing more than usual? i don't know, they mostly cough at night when i can't tell who it is. my poor little fellows, i just want them well. i want them well, and i want my ganniga well, because she keeps trying to pretend that she IS well, and i want apilak (who was given a clean bill of health, thank God) to remain well, and i want a latte. hopefully i get all the other things before i get my latte. so, the boys are all on antibiotics (or they will be, once karen visits dr. aree at her clinic tonight and picks up their [free sample] meds) and they should be fine. it really just blows my mind to see how people open up their hearts to these boys. dr. aree roped a couple of the specialists into checking things out like june's ears, and they all agreed willingly, and for free. these two salesmen who didn't have any 'samples' of the meds dr. aree needed just up and gave her a thousand baht to buy them outright from someone else. so many people have been willing to help these boys, from the zillions of teams that have come through to the girl who runs the stall next to their popcorn stand, and who lends them a hand setting it up. it kind of renews your faith in humanity.
well worth the wait, i think. for heaven's sake, people, DON'T feed the coconut. the illustration denotes what will happen if you do. based upon the success of this photo upload, i think i'll start a new blog and post some more (i don't DARE try and put more on this post, in case i lose this one precious photo).
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
in orphanage news, p'ganniga's been sick. i think i mentioned this a few posts ago, but i'm not sure i communicated how completely earth-shattering that is. it'd be like if he-man came down with the flu, or something. thai people are invincible. i saw three motercycles crash into each other at top speed two nights ago, each carrying at least two people. no one was wearing a helmet, everyone went flying, and no one was hurt. you could shoot a thai at close range with a longbow, and he'd, like, maybe stagger back a bit. so p'ganniga's got a cough and a sore throat, and she sounds like death, but she's still going a million miles a minute, even though i tell her at every turn to take a nap, or eat something. apilak's been shifted from home to home in an effort to keep him healthy, and he's found semi-permanent residence with the fallses (who also have supakit, and who run the risk of going stir-baby-crazy, because i've had both babies for a few HOURS, and nearly lost my mind. they're going on a couple of DAYS now, bless their hearts).
the boys, while still durable, are a little more 'vincible' than their countrymen, and one by one, they have caught 'the cough.' max went down first, and so we quarantined him to my old room, but yesterday dao came home from school, curled up on the floor, and promptly went to sleep (which i'd post a picture of, but for aforementioned difficulties). he slept for three hours, despite noise and clamour and being tripped over several times. last night, june was hacking pretty severely, and it was a lacklustre bunch that picked over their chicken and rice this morning. apilak can't come home until all are well (relatively). the boys have some sort of exams this month (i think), but they're all so bleary and unenthusiastic that i can't see them studying hard just now.
also, martin and hannah, our charming english duo, are leaving us today. they have been a joy and a delight to my life, and have taught me all sorts of useful things about england (like how the queen owns all the swans, and england owns the northern bit of scotland, and some shopping malls are banning hoodies because there's a certain brand of person who wears hoodies, and no one likes them, and also that a 'sidewalk' is actually called a 'pavement' and that your 'pants' are what you wear under your trousers, and that we pronounce 'buddha' and 'muslim' wrong) and i will miss them and our impromptu 'english lessons,' and their general willingness to help out anywhere at any time. and have i mentioned that hannah loves pirates as much as i do? she had a pirate-themed stagette (except they call it a 'hen party') and she bought a shirt the other day that says 'pirates are way cooler than ninjas' and has a picture of a pirate giving a ninja the finger, except that she scraped off the finger, so now he's just shaking his fist.
that's really all for now. life has hit something of a rut. one time, my paramedic friend robyn (who's out there SAVING LIVES!!!) posted about her 'mundane life,' and i was like, ROBYN, YOU'RE OUT THERE SAVING LIVES!!! plus i believe the post contained something about stripping firemen down...but now i'm IN THAILAND working at an orphanage, and my life has become comfortable and boring. i guess you get used to anything in time. even firemen.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
we have a team here from the states (several of them [states, not team members]), called 'full sail.' they're a singing group...mostly they tour around our area and sing worship songs...anyway, they let me come to monkey mountain with them on friday for dinner. monkey mountain is so called because of its profusion of monkeys. for reals, there's zillions of'em. we rented a songthaew to take us up there, and the whole road up was strewn with monkeys...couldn't take photos because we were on a moving songthaew, and then when we got to the 'top,' the world was suddenly void of monkeys. i induced two of the full sailers to walk back down with me a ways to get some sweet monkey shots, but our venture was cut short. an attempt to snap a pic of the grandaddy monkey led to a savage attack by aforementioned grandaddy, and the three of us fled in terror. monkeys is unreasonable beasts.
then it rained. then we had dinner under a tarp, and we all got wet anyways. then the profusion of small children combined with the excitement of the rain and the general messyness of small children in rain made me profoundly aware that i do not want children for some time yet (late nights with babies may have contributed to this effect). then we took a songthaew home in the wet.
my day off (friday) consisted of an early morning full sail concert at the boys' school (which i couldn't NOT attend), and then a trip to sri richa to buy myself 30 more fine-free days, and then another full sail concert at yet another school, and then a trip to monkey mountain in the evening, so i was not so much rested as mildly worn down that night when karen emailed to ask if i could take supakit the following day, it being sheri and brian's 16th anniversary and all. so i showed up saturday morning to find a sheri and brian all set to go in their workout gear, cradling a sweating, feverish supakit. after much deliberation, they reluctantly set off to work out while i took the cranky, sick baby for a few hours. when they returned, they took him to the hospital, 'just in case.' suddenly they're phoning, and supakit is getting his lungs suctioned, and now he's on five different medications, three times a day (not as in 'five throughout the day,' but as in 'five in the morning, three at lunch, and five in the evening), and p'ganniga's sick, and max is sick, and apilak is staying with brian and tiffany (did i mention that tiff's pregnant, and has 4 of her own under the age of eight?) so that he doesn't get sick, and the full sail team left one of their girls behind to teach some classes or something, and i'm supposed to hang out with her, because how lonely is it to be stuck in thailand!! but i have to go pick up joy in ten minutes, and i only have sixteen days left here, and i do and don't want to come home!!!!!
and that's all. there's your teeny update, mum. love you.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
also, this may be outside of anyone's interest range, but here in thailand (and most particularly in my house) it's not so much a matter of the boys not putting the toilet seat back down, it's a matter of them not putting it up in the first place.
i want a bagel.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
in other news, it appears that apilak has moved into our home (quasi)permanently. this being everyone's first orphanage, we are unsure as to how to proceed. do we set up a separate townhouse and nanny for the two babies? do we keep one of them with the boys (who, quite frankly, did not sign up to be parents, and who i feel should have no obligation to tend to the overgrown foetusi) and keep the other one with one of the families? what is to be done? be in prayer.
a new team has arrived from california, they're supposed to be a 'band' of some sort, but there's at least fifteen of them, plus several small children, so we have taken to calling them 'the orchestra.' one of the women from the previous california team back in june sent me the biggest box of 'now and laters' via this team (to the canadian amongst you, 'now and laters' are a candy akin to a starburst, only tangier, and they are hard 'now' when you start chewing them, and soft 'later') and so i am currently consuming far more sugar than is good for me. rudy, you are a peach.