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balance (2): October 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

homes

it's funny that my two homes are so exactly opposite each other in every aspect. NY is an ultra urban wonderland while Thailand is remote tropical paradise. they really represent two sides of myself. i feel more myself in these two places than i do anywhere else in the world.

NY is a great city to be alone in, which is a good thing since i am quite alone here (please don't ask me why)! i love to slink around the village, observing- the wholesome families setting up the greenmarket in union square, the jewish ladies pushing their glasses up on their noses and dragging little dogs in sweaters behind them, the b-boys in their braids and basketball shirts who hang outside the record stores and are always shockingly polite to me, the gazillions of super gorgeous well dressed intellectual young men with sensuous lips wearing their iPods on the train (pant), the sad immigrants hawking carts of goods or playing plaintive spanish songs in the station, the drama queens draped all over each other with fluttering hands, lisping the schedule for their latest show, the rubber stamped business men in reflecting shades who can be mistaken for robots if you blink quickly... even the crackwhores and the scruffy homeless runaways who linger in the alleys have some part to play in the story of the city. i absolutely love it, and i miss living here. i just wish it wasn't so damned expensive!

i have realized coming back this time just how much i have mellowed out! i am a much happier, more laid back person after having lived on my little island for 3 years. not much gets to me like it used to, i am far less neurotic. also my priorities have changed. i don't have much interest in "hipsters" any longer, going out and getting drunk and comparing outfits is no longer my scene really. i want to meet intelligent, genuine, warm people who have something to offer beneath the surface. otherwise i am happy to wander around on my own, taking in a film here, sitting on a park bench there... smiling at passersby who smile back at me.



dinner at frank's- my favorite italian in the world


this is the thing that gets me the most! NY has a reputation for being rough and unfriendly, when it is actually quite the opposite. people are so effusively friendly here! compared to the petty snobbery of thais (who have no real education or worldly perspective to base their superciliousness on) new yorkers are amazing! people seem to know how lucky they are to be here and are happy to keep in harmony with their fellow life livers. there is such a happy, positive, forward moving energy here that i have never found anywhere else in the world.

so my thinking is that i may try to snag a contract working stateside during the at least 3 months of rainy season every year, to break up my island reverie a bit. 9 months in thailand, 3 in NY, that is the tentative plan, until thailand finally kicks me out for good. now i just have to convince my clients.

Monday, October 29, 2007

NY, NY

a continuation of:





i flipped back to my 'wanderlust' journal 5 years ago, when i was setting off on my trip "around the world", and i realized how much things have changed since then. in those days, 'x' and i would go on excited shopping sprees, stocking up on useless and expensive "necessities" for travel. we spent a lot of time planning and building our travel websites. we would spend days in the window seat of barnes and noble, overlooking union square, meticulously researching our trip in various guidebooks. i had a lot more enthusiasm back then, and was both more prepared and less so at the same time for what was to come.

this year, i feel sort of apathetic about the continuation of my trip! i have spent 3 years saving to travel again, and dutifully bought the tickets and made initial arrangements... but haven't put much thought into what i am doing at all, and can barely muster up any feeling whatsoever other than tiredness(!). am i over travelling? has living in a 3rd world country made me so jaded at what the world might have to offer that i don't even want to bother? reading my idealistic, optimistic, "carpe diem" proclamations of that time just makes me shrug in annoyance now.

in any case, after narrowly escaping monsoon floods in koh phangan (a hellish drive out of my village through sodden jungle in a hiccuping jeep with no windshield wipers), & after a short stint in bangkok doing last minute stuff, i finally boarded the plane to new york. regretted immediately the fact that i had purchased the cheapest ticket available on china airlines. unlike previous trips, this one was on a very stripped down plane, not even a personal light in the ceiling above my seat, let alone personal video screens or leg room. good thing i had loaded up on the xanax at the hospital where i got injections before i came. i slept a drugged sleep in a cramped position for the 20-odd hours of the trip, waking only in befuddlement when we landed in alaska to re-fuel. (alaska! man was it cold, but really amazing to see from the air). i had been worried about US immigration hassling me after hearing horror stories about the paranoid regulations post-911, but the man just smiled, asked me if i had more than $10000 US on me (i wish), and waved me through.



alaska


later, in NY, i was disappointed to find it was raining torrentially as well, and it was cold too! but the first thing i noticed was that people are so genuinely NICE here! (what the heck is wrong with thais?)... i caught the super shuttle with some friendly taiwanese men, who chattered inexorably all the way into the city. i was euphoric when we crossed the queensboro bridge into manhattan! 3 years away from this place, and i wondered why exactly that was?! i was dropped off at my hotel in union square, which turned out to be quite nice despite the fact that it's a 5th floor walkup. it was 1am and i had at least 7 hours to go before i could eat breakfast, and even longer until shops opened, so i huddled under the quilt shivering and flipped back and forth between the 2 tv channels on offer for hours, wallowing in jet lag.

the next morning i set out in the cold and rain to do a little shopping. what a shock it is to be paying in dollars again! the excitement at setting out on the town quickly turned to depression when i realized i couldn't leave my hotel room without dropping at least $30 at a time. what am i going to do for a week?! i hit all my favorite shops- marvelled at the abundance in the supermarkets like whole foods (which seems like heaven after years of picking through the same spare stalls back on the island). was ecstatic to find they opened a 'chipotle' branch and a 'forever 21' shop in union square, both of which i craved for months in thailand.



look at this selection of real beer! as the girl in whole foods said to me; "we have everything you need and everything you don't!"...


somehow i started the day with the conviction that i was going to leave thailand and move back to NY, and i ended the day wishing i was back at home in thailand with my puppy and my warm thai boy. i suppose it's just overwhelming to be presented with so much choice! NY has everything, which is why i love it- every kind of food, music, films, art, festivals, shopping, even political protests-



(i stumbled unawares right into the middle of a huge anti-war parade on my first trip out)


...but i do feel a lot of pressure here to get out into it- see this, do that, buy this, be that... it makes me want to crawl back under my quilt and sleep. which to be honest, is what i did, after i went to see a movie ('darjeeling limited', pretty good) which cost me $21 including the popcorn. i don't have much motivation to call up old friends (or acquaintances, rather) or go out to bars or shows etc. i feel like i shouldn't waste my time here but at the same time i don't like that pressure!

anyway, today i will set off to the thai embassy to apply for a new visa for thailand. and perhaps i will visit the met, or the zoo, or my old neighborhoods in williamsburg (brooklyn) and the east village. or perhaps i will just curl up with boxes of all the snacks i can't get at home (twinkies! goldfish crackers! twizzlers! hershey milkshakes!) and binge myself into oblivion.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

off we go

left my little island home for bangkok today in a completely scattered and unprepared frame of mind. my friend nataly drove me to the pier in torrential rain, deftly avoiding floods, landslides, and fallen trees despite the fact that her windshield wipers weren't working and i was screeching like a banshee in the back seat. perfect time to leave thong nai pan- that lovely rainy season i mentioned last entry has decided to turn bad quick. i felt a bit guilty leaving little m alone in my house, where he will most likely be trapped, horrifically lonely and bored out of his mind for the next 9 weeks. i promised to send him books on web design from bangkok so he can occupy his time learning. worried for my poor dogs as well, especially 'sick', who i sadly fear will soon be 'dead'. :( i had no choice but to leave him suffering in the cold and wet with a horrible immune disorder which has his head swollen horrifically and all his fur gone. sad little family of mine. never before have i felt such regret at leaving "home".

on the way to bangkok i discovered i have a worrying new fear of flying! doesn't help that i have recently watched 'united 93' and 'air crash investigations', not to mention countless reports of china airlines' bad safety record. hoping i can get some sort of anti-panic-attack meds from the hospital when i go in for travel shots tomorrow, as every little bit of turbulence on my hour flight today had me with a death grip on the seat in front of me and completely forgetting to breathe. don't know how i can handle 27 hours of that on the trip to NY! have a couple days here to try and get my shit together before then.

x wrote me and said "isn't it always at the last minute before a trip that you come to your senses and think 'wtf' am i doing?!?!" ha....

Monday, October 15, 2007

freedom

i am one week away from traipsing off into the unknown again. before when i planned a trip of this sort i writhed and moaned over every little detail, but this time i have barely given it much thought and wil probably find myself frantically packing at the last minute. it doesn't seem real- except when i check my bank balance and see how much i have already spent on tickets! i am excited as this will be a springboard to new life #7493 or so... and change and novelty is always fun, not to mention necessary at times. also this time i have a real home and good friends to come back to, rather than a flophouse hotel, lonely destitution, and a soul killing job search like usual. the plan is a stop in new york (so excited to spend ten days there after 3 years away! actually hitting myself that i didn't plan for longer!), then a few weeks each in peru, bolivia, and argentina with a little side trip through uruguay up to the border of brazil. yippee! been practicing my spanish and looking up self defense tips so should be set.

meanwhile it's lush and lazy rainy season in thong nai pan, really the best time of year when it comes down to it. no one here, most places closed down, but beautiful weather even when it's raining and people have time to stop and chat or lie around and do nothing. my little ex boyfriend moved back in and we have been pretending to be a happy couple for the past few weeks, as he is planning to stay in my house and watch my doggies when i am gone. we have actually really been happy, which is nice, but it's not hard to be a nice couple when there are no distractions and no competition. he will go back to work (8a-12a most days) in high season and we will return to our volatile friendship as usual then. for now he plays playstation, messes around in the yard, downloads music to his phone, or reads harry potter while i frolic with my dogs on the beach, play on the internet, and gossip with random visitors.

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