Flipping The Narrative

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I know I have waxed ad nauseum about how much I despise corporate life, and how desperate I have been for a change of scene. To everyone who would hear me, I have ranted about my unfortunate passport and the lack of opportunities being awarded to me because of it. And then Spotify came to Bangkok. How is this relevant?

I have been listening to a LOT of music because of it. Music I wouldn’t have even bothered listening to during those Spotify-without-VPN days. And in listening to all sorts of music, I realised that we have become so conditioned to find the negative in everything. This is our first reaction.

“Have you heard the new Harry Styles album?”, “EWWWWWWWWW, no way!”

“Have you had the new 7/11 draught beer?”, “Erm, I’m not insane”

We dismiss new experiences because it says on the internet that it’s shit. Reviews on the internet are king! Doing what’s popular is the norm.

And I discovered all this while listening to a song I wouldn’t listen to. Crazy, right?

I had the revelation that rather than moping and whining about how everything is horrible, how the world is awful, how life has set you up for failure, etc, I would focus on trying, on being proactive, of taking crazy gambles that may not work out. After all, there might be something you’d fall in love with when you do. You might find home.

These startling motivational quotes provided to me by my brain in conjunction with a popular music streaming app has now helped me look at things differently.

  1. I work in a country many people are trying to get into desperately. I’m already here, and I’ve made it.
  2. My passport is not the best, but it opens way more doors than a lot of my friends who happen to be born in places Mr Trump wouldn’t be able to place on a map.
  3. I have a family who loves and supports me no matter what crazy decisions I make (and trust me, I make some insane ones)
  4. I have friends who root for me when I need a boost, who tell me how it is when I need a dose of truth, who send me music to soothe my soul, and funny videos of late night talk show hosts when I need to rage and laugh at the same time.
  5. As much as I hate the politics of my workplace, I get paid to do what I’m good at doing. My parents have had to struggle their whole lives, and they still don’t get as many work benefits as I have been getting.
  6. I live and work in a foreign country – it helps me stay out of my comfort zone and discover something new and exciting every day.
  7. I am able to go on long holidays, and thanks to technology, able to connect to my niece every single day if I need to.
  8. The world is f&^ed up, but I am surrounded by good people both in person and on the interwebs. Your heart, your drive, your energy, your passion, your goodness – it drives me.
  9. I live in a world where I can cuddle with all sorts of animals, and deal with my allergies thanks to the wonder of science.
  10. I am a woman who can vote, save, earn big bucks, spend them all on movie tickets and useless stuff I don’t need, I am able to wear what I want, I am able to have my voice heard.

Life is good. All you have to do is flip the narrative and focus on everything that you have going for you. Listen without bias, and you just may discover joy.

 

The Perks Of Dating A Teacher

My mum was a teacher when we were growing up. She eventually gave it up for non-governmental, non-profit work but there are still embarrassing memories of being treated as a teacher’s daughter. However, being as young as I was back then, some of these memories have blurred into one and have started to fade. I am, now, however, dating a bookie-turned-writer-turned-teacher. This brings with it its set of perks!

You appreciate the mornings –

Our day starts at 5am, the unholy time his annoying alarm starts chirping. No matter what stage of sleep I am in, once that alarm goes off, my day begins. Even if my work starts at a more normal hour of day, I am forced given the opportunity to literally listen to pre-sunrise birds. The three hours I gain from this means I have time to binge watch the blacklist go to the gym and eat a healthy breakfast.

You appreciate the nights –

Having woken up at unearthly hours means that your body is slowly fading by the late twentyonehunderhours. This means that the three hours that you do get from the time you leave work are spent in the best way possible – cooking a meal, binge watching ‘Making a Murderer’ while he either grades papers or lesson plans spending quality time together and sleeping. Weeknight date nights? Umm, what’s that?

You appreciate the weekends –

A teacher’s idea of a lie in during the weekend means waking up at 7am in the morning! When you date someone who is a loud waker-uper, you are doomed given the gift of having a really long weekend. So instead of waking up shortly past noon, you have the whole day ahead of you to do whatever you want. Unless, of course, he’s brought the lesson plans home again.

You appreciate your health –

Working with cold-carrying munchkins kids means you become quite kid too. This has helped me take to naturally occurring sources of Vitamin C like it is the newest weight loss fad. This also means that I have become quite good at tossing masks at his face and ducking for cover every-time I hear a sneeze making hot chicken noodle soup and being the excellent nurse that I am.

You never stop learning –

If you are lucky enough, you get to hear their teacher voices all the time. You not only get to brush up on nursery rhymes you thought you’d hear again. Sometimes when a point is being made, certain people (I’m not naming any names) stand up and make the point. On the plus side, you get to be up to date with the latest hits on the 2016 nursery rhyme chart!

Go find yourself a teacher. If nothing else, you will get ugly adorable fridge magnets and wall hangings to decorate your house!

The Bangkok Freeze

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View from my bedroom

I never thought I could feel so cold in Thailand. I am used to drowning in puddles of my own sweat in between the short distance from my condo to the doors of the BTS. In fact, when I came back from a colder Christmas at home, I stowed away the only warm jacket I had. Perks of living in a tropical country.

And now?

I am regretting putting it away where I can’t reach it (I am vertically challenged). There has been a 20 degree drop in temperature over the course of the day and the cold, cold wind is leaving me having flashbacks of my life so far.

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View from my office

85 people so far have died from the cold in Taiwan. Vietnam has seen snow. There are icicles growing from every lamppost in Hong Kong and Bangkok with it’s usual 36 degree weather is now struggling under fur coats larger than the person wearing them.

Apparently there is a cold wave flowing down from Siberia to parts of the tropics whose idea of ‘winter’ is wearing shorts on a beach while sipping sunset coloured cocktails. On the plus side, you get to see some really fugly winter jackets (clearly no one knows how to deal with a different temperature here).

For those of you who say that climate change is a made up thing – my thick scarf says hi.

 

Thai Spirit Houses

No I don’t mean bars or breweries although there are plenty of both here. While it is tempting to hit one to deal with the stresses of everyday corporate life (CORPORATES ARE EVIL!), I am talking more about a little cultural phenomenon I almost overlooked. It is so easy in the daily grind to forget that I am actually living in a foreign country and while I have moved here for work, 90% of the appeal of moving to Bangkok was the opportunity to travel and explore more of a culture that is alien to me.

One of the little discoveries are Thai Spirit Houses. Every building – house, mall, giant condo, market – has a miniature house-like structure that is draped in flowers and surrounded by incense. You will know these to be Spirit Houses when you see a couple of fruits and opened bottles of cola with straws lain in front of the mini building. Inside the building, you will sometimes spot statuettes, figurines of humans, dancers and gods. I just assumed they were little external prayer houses.

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Curiosity getting the better of me, I soon found out that Spirit houses aren’t Buddhist tradition as I originally thought. The practice goes back to pre-Buddhist times when people believed that all land is occupied by spirits of our ancestors. In encroaching their land and building your own structures, you are rendering them homeless and as such, are probably bringing bad luck to yourself.

To counter this, everyone builds a miniature home for the spirits in the corner of the property so that the Spirits can continue to live on the land but also have proper shelter to spend their days in comfort. The house is built on a prominent spot and a lot of people build it so that the shadow of whatever structure would soon occupy the land will not fall on the Spirit house. In addition to this, people leave the spirits food offerings. If the cola bottles are anything to go by, the Spirits seem to have an affinity for Strawberry Fanta!

When the room land-mates of the Spirit House decide to build a new mini-house, a colourful ceremony is conducted so that the Spirits may travel to the new house peacefully. At the end of the ceremony, the old house is discarded near a temple.

There is just something about this simple tradition that has really captured my imagination. If I ever settle down in one place and own a house someday, I might have a Spirit House of my own. Would you?

 

Do the N’s in NaNoWriMo stand for Nightmare?

I have no idea what I'm doing

I had my first sleepless night about NaNoWriMo. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for years and something I keep ducking out of for legitimate excuses, but excuses nonetheless. This time I thought I’d give the ‘don’t think too much’ thing a try and signed up for it. I have wanted to write a book for so long that I am worried that I will discover along the way that I’m not really cut out for it. That would break my heart. I do not doubt my ability with writing. What I do doubt is whether I have a story to tell or not.

And so it is I find myself signed up for a very ambitious (according to me) goal and I’ve even managed to design a header. All well and good, but I don’t have a story to tell. I am hoping that inspiration will hit me when I stare at the blank screen.

Wish me luck!