Judging The Book

So, my students found my Facebook, and it’s nothing I am ashamed of. But of course, they find the photos of me playing model in New York City, Miami, Barcelona, and Paris. Back when I wasn’t on a painful Peace Corps budget, I would solo travel and pay photographers to do their thing and boost my confidence, of course the memories attached were very much worth it as I reminisce daily of my time at the Louvre or in Times Square. But now my students have found me online and they ask if I am a model.

“No. I am a teacher.”

“But why? You are so pretty; models make more money.”’

Pre-Peace Corps I was serving looks.

I think of how my mother would often tell me how she wanted to put me in modelling classes when I was a baby only to be stopped by my father concerned at the over-sexualization of his daughter.

“I don’t want to be a model because you are only pretty for so long. I want my job to mean something more.”

My students (Mattayom Two) all hum in agreement. Then they begin to ask me if I think they are pretty.

“Of course, you are all beautiful.”

“Even ________?” (I don’t want to be naming all the names because privacy)

Now, I note that this student is noticeably darker than the others, even though they are all pretty dark.  

“Yes. Even______. I think she is very pretty” and she is, inside and out. She has a face that lights up, and expresses every emotion she knows. Her face is narrow and very angular, she reminds me of those ancient marble busts found in museums. She gets bullied a lot for her appearance by staff and students alike, but she continues to show everyone love and offers me hugs daily.

They show their confusion because the beauty standards of Thailand have deemed this particular student to be ugly. She is too dark. They even try to explain this concept to me through bringing her arm up to various items, other students, and they even bring her up to my printer paper and try to explain that’s how she should look.

“In the United States a lot of us want to be dark. I wish I could be a little darker, that’s why I like going to the beach, to tan.”

Now their minds are thoroughly blown.

I hear a plethora of comments made daily about appearances. Thai people are very concerned with beauty. An unhealthy obsession when you take into account the skin bleaching. When I was first introduced to my school I was not introduced as the new teacher. I was introduced as the new pretty foreigner. Never mind my degree, or bilingualism, or any of the other knowledge I possess. And my students’ introductions to me were no different. I was not told which students were fast-learners nor which did well in tests, or other academic areas. I was told which were prettiest or most handsome, and which were too dark, too fat, too short, or just generally displeasing to look at in the opinion of the Thai people.

So how do I go about fixing this problem at my school? Subconsciously of course. My students are little artists you see. Nothing makes them happier than coloring. So daily I have students old and young color a variety of pages featuring Maya Angelou, Angela Davis, Ellen Ochoa, Dolores Huerta, and Frida Kahlo. I explain who they are and why are they important to me. When they are done, I praise their art, I tell them “she’s beautiful like you”. Now this method only works for so long. Because enter the damn Disney Princesses. One student got her hands on a Disney Princess coloring book and from that day on they were back on the “light is right” train. So, I hit back harder. Currently in my room hangs photos of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sonia Sotomayor, Rita Moreno, Juliana Rotich, Maria Da Penha, Mae Jemison, and Gladys West. (The italics specify they are women of STEM) and removed the Disney Princesses from the vicinity. They see these women and I tell them they are not only beautiful, but smart. And that’s also a statement said religiously from me to my students. “You are beautiful and smart.”

This addresses another ongoing problem in my community, and honestly, it’s one I have also seen in the United States and Puerto Rico. Now, if you are a teacher in Thailand you may have a student or two whose nickname is Grace. Why is she called this? Well in my school it’s because they are pretty. They match the beauty standards down to a T. The other teachers will praise these girls for that and that alone. Ignoring the fact that these pretty girls are regularly doing bad on tests, and any of their other subjects. But it’s okay because she’s pretty.

 Now every little girl loves to be told they’re pretty and I’m not saying we should stop. But imagine what would happen if we called them smart instead or even in addition to. I would hope they would aspire to intellectual greatness. I tell my students at least once a week “Beauty fades. Knowledge stays” and when they ask me what do I want to do with my life I tell them all of my goals. “I want to be a lawyer, I want to continue my education, I want to defend those who have experienced injustice, and I want to change the world for someone.” Of course, these big borderline philosophical statements go through my counterparts. But they get the point, some still try to convince me to model and I mockingly vogue down my classroom runway, but then it ends when I tell them “Now let’s learn.”

The two faces that occur most frequently in class.

But looks attribute to so much. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I didn’t care about my appearance. Hell, I’m a vegetarian, who does juice cleanses, and with a 16:8 intermittent fasting schedule to stay bikini body ready. I regularly make face creams, exfoliators, moisturizers and hair masks. I put ice on my face to shrink my pores, and steam my face to detox them. I don’t leave my house without mascara, eyebrows, lipstick, and eyeshadow on. I still shave despite the fact that no one here cares. I have even worn heels to my school. And I don’t always do it for myself. I’m Latina with a mom who was critical on my appearance daily. She even told me to always make sure my underwear matches my bra because “what will happen if you get into an accident and the EMT is a good-looking man? If they don’t match, he will think you don’t have your life together and not want to be with you”.   Mom, my bra and underwear match and my life’s still not together. It’s ingrained at this point and that’s fine. However, my goal isn’t to just be aesthetically pleasing for the EMT or for anyone else. It’s to be smart. When I look at the Law program I want to study in the states, I get turned on. “Immigration Law. Science of Implicit Bias or Critical Race Theory. Administrative Law.” Thinking that I can possess this knowledge is such a seductive idea to me. Talking about law and politics is the equivalent of fine champagne and filet mignon for me. But I digress.

The Queen of not-so-great advice.
But best believe I hook my mom up with a photo-shoot too.

Sometimes I do think about the things I would like to physically change about myself and the comments that had been made in the past. My ex-boyfriend used to make fun of the fact that I had a large forehead pretending he could see his reflection in it if I got too sweaty. Another ex would comment on my hips saying they were “proper birthing hips” WHAT? Then the countless people who tell me I have the worst case of RBF they have ever seen. And as an elementary student I remember being one of the only curly haired people in school, so that was always being discussed, more mocked actually. The worst has been the criticism from myself, specifically about my chest. That area didn’t get the memo when puberty hit.

Of course, it’s all water off the ducks back when you have the confidence and comfort to love yourself the way you are. When you realize accomplishing your goals is what really matters. But still there are times when I think if I could just get a procedure and like my body more, would I do it? Even though it’s still too early I think about my re-adjustment allowance and the things I want to do with it. Part of me wants to go to Bangkok and finally fix what genetics failed me on. The other part says “Masters. Fordham. New York City B****” and that other part also says “This body has been a work in progress for 24 years. Why get in the way of that hard work when you don’t know what’s to come?”

It’s human nature to enjoy beautiful things. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have art. We wouldn’t have stories, fables and mythology. We wouldn’t have amazing architecture. But the line with beauty is drawn when there is no substance behind it. Students are like books, and it is the job of the teacher to ensure that those pages are full of something meaningful. After that the student can make the informed decisions to either share their knowledge with the world or stay on the shelf. But those pages need to be filled regardless, and we all know never judge a book by it’s cover. 

Crack a few

Today’s big adventure was to make an omelette. The idea came to me last night when I was getting ready for bed, thinking to myself that this omelette would jump start my day. Especially since I just found Rosemary in the market, and I love Rosemary.

Then morning came. I didn’t want to get up, not out of being tired. I just couldn’t find it in me to get up. The room was hot from the morning sun and I have to turn on the A/C to change that but then I’d have to get up. I lurch across my bed ungracefully and reach for one of my larger paintbrushes sitting on my bedside table, then I stretch up with it and manage to turn on the breaker that controls my A/C. Okay. Problem one has been managed. Comforted by it’s low humming and the assurance that the room will start to cool, I grab my phone. E-mails(21 new, mark them as read) , Facebook(Memories that I don’t have) , Whatsapp (no new messages), Instagram (friends out doing awesome things this three day weekend). Then I feel a quick pang of emotional pain. I didn’t get invited to not one single event. Whatever, that’s fine. I comfort myself with the typical thoughts I have whenever this happens. I.E. “I had adulting shit I had to do anyway.” “I should be saving money.” “I bought groceries this week and wouldn’t want them to go bad” I continue on and make tentative plans with myself to have a me day, a me trip. Fill my trip with everything I want to see and do, art museums, wine tasting, lounge bars, and boutiques. My mind flashes back to Saturday.

Saturday. I spent my morning drinking cheap rum and painting every surface on my body. Covered in water colors, acrylics, and self expression I felt free, uninhibited, a feeling that I must say is quite fleeting lately. I had dedicated that Saturday to find something to make me happy. But was that it? I dance with complete abandon. I sing not worrying about the notes coming out right. I burn my sage and bless my house. I smash eggshells for my Cascarilla powder. Get connected with my brujeria. I paint sunsets on my right leg and abstract thoughts on my left. I ponder the concept of blue bloods and make the shade I imagine it to be and trace it along the veins along my left arm. My right hand is covered in a motley of colors that I use to create hand prints along sheets of paper and on myself. Fleetwood Mac and Whitney Houston blared in the highs but in the lows I found myself forgetting the music and just painting red and blue streaks over my arms and legs until I submitted to the sounds and the energy and would lay down on the floor, drink in hand. I think to myself at one point, “Is this it? Is this a mental breakdown? I feel everything and nothing at the same time, surely that means something.” Then I remind myself that if it was a true mental breakdown I probably wouldn’t be aware of it, would have experienced a true break in reality, and after all my self awareness is something I have always bragged about and prided myself on. I go to my bathroom and clean off, Whitney continues to play. I sit in the now desert of emotion. I wonder if all of that was true, genuine, happiness, or was it forced? And if it is forced doesn’t that cheapen the whole experience? Is it time for me to come to terms with the fact that this may be how I express myself for the next two years? A silent, solitary declaration of emotion.

Sunday. Woke up and made egg in the hole. Burnt the bread and somehow put the cheese on the wrong side. How did I manage that? Well it’s beyond me. I taste the rosemary in it and think “Why on earth does this taste somewhat like a McGriddle? Has it been that long?” Answer is yes. But on with the day. Start the laundry and call a friend stateside. I bitch on the phone for far too long and vent until it’s time for her to go to bed. As always I’m thankful to talk to her. One common Peace Corps concern is that your friends stateside forget you. Consigned to oblivion in their memories. Truth of the matter is Peace Corps makes you lose your common grounds with them, all points of reference change making conversations foreign. How am I to explain to my friends stateside all of the intricacies of Thai culture over the phone. I explained to her this week what my typical shower is and she responds “I think I would lose it if I had to shower like that.” I tell her “It’s easier than it seems and trust me when you got a million other things on the table a bucket shower is the least of your concerns.” I continue to explain to her that after five months the foreign doesn’t feel so foreign anymore and it just becomes commonplace actions, part of the routine. We hang up and the laundry is done. Now of course, I don’t have a washing machine, it’s all done by hand so when I say it’s done I actually mean its done its final soak and I can hang it out to dry. At this point it is just shy of noon, and I don’t know what else to do. I look in my fridge and see all the vegetables I had bought for the week and I can tell they’re about to go bad. I bought them all intending to make Habichuelas Guisadas but I lack the proper spices (note to Goya, please start shipping to Thailand.) But whatever, I start making Asopao. A Puerto Rican gumbo. I play my bomba y plena and feel at home while cooking, I can hear the rapture and cacophony of my families voices. I can hear the rapid fire Spanish, and music, and I can feel the bendiciones when I am cooking. If I imagine hard enough I can smell my grandmothers perfume, and the petrichor of the rainforest. But this is another feeling that is forever fleeting.  Once I hear my landlords talking in the next room the vinyl scratches and I am reminded I am in Thailand.  Now I keep reminding myself as I cook, stop adding too many ingredients, you’re only cooking for one. I can remind myself this until I’m out of breath but the trouble is I’ve only seen this cooked in large quantities. It’s funny, when I cook American food I know how to portion it out so that I only make enough for one. But Puerto Rican food, I make enough for the town to eat and still have leftovers. It must be a cultural thing. But at the end I have an entire pot of Asopao and no one to share it with. I keep thinking about how much I would love to have a dinner party with my friends from the other provinces but I don’t know how many of them would care to come all this way just to entertain me. Then the lights go out and it’s raining, hard. It’s 6 p.m. I quickly clean my kitchen so that the bugs don’t take up residence. Then follow up I go to take my bucket shower in the dark using my phone as the smallest of lights, and then I have a slight Maria flashback. I panic in the bathroom and quickly run out forgetting to wash the soap off. Once I am out I think, “Well that’s new.” I have never panicked in the dark. What set it off this time? I think to call my friends to calm down, but then I decide they wouldn’t understand. I barely understand. Then as I resign myself to another night without the fan and without A/C the power comes back. I hear my mother say “Dios te desafia pero no te rompera” God challenges you but he won’t break you.

Monday. I struggle to get up, but I make my omelette. I get some work done. Go home and the lights are out. I’m irritated but I clean. I go outside for some fresh air, pet the dogs, and sit down and again accept the lack of electricity. Then it comes back. The day is left for me. I get up and drink some coffee and begin to write. This is probably the most emotional writing I have done in awhile, and hopefully it shows a vulnerable side of me that I often push away. I keep my emotions close to my chest and never wear my heart on my sleeve. But allowing my emotions the freedom to leave has been relieving. Thanks for sticking through it.

God will challenge you but he will not break you. So long as you keep getting up.

Those dang quizzes.

I love personality tests. When I was younger that’s how I spent most of my time on the internet. Now I’m older and all those tests probably attributed to my interest in Psychology. But what I’ve always enjoyed is the confirmation that these quizzes would give me about myself. So here’s the run down of me.

I am a Type A, ISTJ, and in Hamilton terms I’m Jefferson. (That’s a reference for my sister as Broadway is her passion and Hamilton is my go-to inspiration)

Dive in deeper to what each one means and if you know me you’d say each quiz was right. I am an introverted, observant, thoughtful, judgmental person, who values autonomy, honoring my duties, and in need of constant improvement. I am also a jack of all trades and pride myself in being so. On the downside, at times I am cold and seemingly robotic. People could misjudge my desire to work, create and enforce order as obsessiveness. Being Type A as well would exacerbate this. Time management is key and the end goal of any Type A is to attain a status, be known for someone who did something people call glorious.

In the states my loving mother would often criticize my personality saying I could be unfeeling at times and forget the bonds of family. That would hurt. Everything I do is for my family, present and future, I want to be able to rise up and create a life for myself, my mother and sister, and whatever future children I have. My family is full blooded Latino, so they are as emotional as it gets. Being raised with them I saw telenovelas with crying women and hot headed men, making brash decisions and essentially ruining everything. I am not like that. There is no such thing as a “on the fly” decision for me. I require time to sit down, look at the facts, think of every possibility and outcome then and only then will I make a decision.

How does my personality help me in the Peace Corps? Peace Corps to me is about finding order where there is none, it’s about grasping at straws and finding they won’t work for you. It’s about turning the emotions off and observing and finding solutions. So here I am. At my site it took me so long to determine why they had put me with my counterparts, they were attentive to the children, they have an amazing rapport with them all, and they play games with them all the time. So where was I to come in? I found out when I asked for a school calendar and was told there was none. Fine, what about what days do students have off for national holidays? No one knew. Well then what does the daily schedule look like? We don’t know yet. Of course, my luck is they were telling me this a solid two weeks before school started. So now I know why I am here.

As my students are now beginning to speak more English I am building more order for them. They understand a list of directions, and know the more time I have to stand waiting for them to get ready the less time they have to play. Now I am no dictator, this order helps me connect with them. They know I am reliable. They sit and wait for me to show up at 7:20 every morning to chat with them, that my order keeps the rotation of books going in strong, and that after class I will be sitting in my room ready to get the Netflix up and running so we can watch Magic School Bus or an hours worth of baby shark.

My reliability and stubbornness is my grit. Something we are told we need to survive in Peace Corps. I have no regrets on my own personality and while there should always be room for improvement I think I’ll hold on to my Type A, ISTJ, anal retentive self. One of my favorite lyrics will always be “I am the one thing in life I can control” and while it helps me understand that I can’t control everything I sure will try to control what I can.

Be like a child

I am not great with kids. When people ask me why did you become a teacher my response is nothing but sarcastic. “Because there’s too many stupid people in the world who piss me off and if I can stop the next generation from being dumb then so be it.” But I appreciate kids. They are so curious and at ease with the world. There’s a lot of qualities in kids that I wish I had. Thanks Dad, I grew up way too fast. My dad pressured me to perfection, to feel nothing, and to be the winner after all “Second place is just the first loser”. Now I am 24, anxious as all hell, anal retentive, and can’t say not one sentence without a mocking tone. But I think about what life would be like had my father not screwed me over.

I think I see it quite often in my neighbors daughter. She’s fast. The first time I’ll see her in the day I recognize her by her puff of hair passing by my window. She’s got this wild curly hair and stunning dark skin. She reminds me a lot of the Morenos of Puerto Rico. I hope for her sake her family likes her appearance because it is so unique and against the grain for Thai Culture. She’s nervous about getting to close to me and that’s fair, I was raised in the Stranger Danger Era. Anyway, I see her on her bike riding through the dirt, out-peddling the dogs and her cousin. But when her cousin catches her, he pushes her down into the dirt and steals her bike. She’s smart though. Cousin peddles around the house a couple of times and she won’t chase him. She waits patiently and cleans off the dirt, then as Cousin is taking another lap she steps out of hiding and gives him a taste of his own medicine. But she never continues riding. She just exacts her revenge and then goes home. She’s got spunk.

Later in the day I’ll watch Cousin play with the red ant hills in front of my house. He pokes at them and is amused when I spray bug killer at my door to stop them from retreating into my house and he laughs at my muttering some choice words in Spanish. Then like clock-work Negrito and Papito Chulo(my names for two of the stray dogs) come around hoping for some dinner scraps. Cousin is scared of Papito, with reason he’s a large lab with some battle scars. But Negrito is smaller, nervous and agile. Cousin goes up to Negrito and starts petting him then it quickly turns to hitting for no apparent reason. I look at Cousin disapprovingly and say “No” he looks at me with confused eyes, and I say it again. He’ll laugh and run away and again I’ll mutter in Spanish about the ants and how the kid just ran away.

One thing I appreciate about the children of Thailand is they demand no reasons. Every day I am asked something about me personally. Including but not limited to: “Why do you look like this?” “Why do you wrap your hair?” “Why do you have curly hair?” “Why are you this size?” The kids, they don’t care. They look at me with amusement as if I was a cartoon character. I love it. I love feeling them play with my hair or touch my skin when they accidentally find a tattoo. Given my height a lot of children will have to look up to me, and given the added height of my bun they look even higher. Always with amusement and I know they want to ask but I’m happy they don’t they just accept me as me.

I’m not good with kids. But I like them enough.

You spell it A-R-T

I am no connoisseur of the arts and I don’t pretend to be. But I enjoy art in all it’s forms. There’s something wonderful about being able to take a blank canvas, a lump of clay, or sounds and make a piece that will give someone so many emotions, and furthermore nourishes the mind.

I would like to say that I am talented in any form of art, however I am not. I think that my talents mostly lie in the kitchen. Granted it does take some sense to recognize a variety of ingredients and put them through the fire accordingly to make a meal, they do call it the culinary arts for a reason. But I am no chef, nor sous chef, nor anything to deal with a kitchen. I find much enjoyment in cooking knowing that I can nourish my body and bring joy to the people I share a meal with. I thank my old coworker and longtime friend Shella for showing me the basics of cooking and I hope to cook for her one day. I have had others tell me my talent is in writing, as I am able to take various words from my lexicon and tell a story without any vocal assistance; for you as the reader can’t hear my voice and you likely have no familiarity with my tones and inflections, nor do you recognize my sarcasm, and I’m sure you aren’t familiar with my sense of humor.

I have always enjoyed painting. I see it very much as writing with no words. A good piece can tell a story. I love the visual arts in all of it’s forms, from graffiti to pieces that have found their way to the Louvre. When I try however the strokes don’t all come together. It takes talent to take the colors of this world and control them and have them bend to your will until they show the image you want.

My sister on the other hand is divine in the arts, musically. She has the ability to pluck sounds from the air and create. She has the voice to inflict feeling unto her audience and she has a sense of being that allows her to perform exquisitely. Now, based on exposure to culture, I was the lucky child between the two of us. I have seen plenty of Broadway shows and continue to do so. I was given numerous opportunities to dance, and sing, and learn an instrument. But the musical arts never fully embraced me and so I walked away from them. Again I still appreciate them and envy those with musical talent, those who can feel rhythm in their soul, and can hit every beat, and who can sing and belt notes loud and long enough to have an audience enraptured and in awe.

The pleasant thing about my fairly solitary life in Thailand is that I have the chance to sit with my thoughts, something that would’ve scared me in the states. I wake up some nights and write whatever it was that I was dreaming about, especially if it was bright and unique. But then at work I see certain happenings and certain angles that I typically wouldn’t think twice on. I hope to get back into painting. Perhaps through finding the balance and control I needed in my life I can find a balance between all the colors and the strokes.

In my city.

So cities, specifically New York and Philadelphia have always been my favorite, for a very sadistic reason. I get to be mean in those cities. Visiting New York is like the Purge to me. Someone gets too close? Shoulder Check them. Last seat on the subway? Ram all other competitors out of the way. Glare at each other for a bit and then get on with whatever you’re doing. There’s a sadistic joy to cities.

But aesthetically, what I love about cities is the absolute sensory overload. Between the smells of whatever food cart you’re passing, or the subway grates, the visuals of graffiti and skyscrapers, and the noise. Cities can keep the senses going on high alert for some time, to some it’s too much but for me it’s just right.

So living in Thailand now I was excited to see some cities, especially knowing that most of my life would be spent in some rural location that many can’t find on the map. So when I got the chance to go to the cities better believe I took it.

First stop. Bangkok. First reaction, why’s it so wide? The skyscrapers are alright but they don’t look that great. Not a noticeable skyline coming in. Going into NYC I always admired the skyline of Manhattan and Lady Liberty not so far off. But Bangkok didn’t really have that. Maybe I missed it. Check into the hostel. Whatever, it’s a hostel no need to bore readers with that. Okay next, get to the main mall. Let’s see what happening there. Where’s the subway? Nope, everyone uses the skyline. What the……. I don’t understand. Why take up space vertically when you could put the entire system underground? Next note, skyline is just two lines. One goes vertically and one goes horizontally. My mind was doing the “confused math woman” meme. My mind went to Manhattan again, thinking to my self that this is too much work. What would happen if someone wanted to get from Brooklyn to The Upper West Side, it’s a diagonal transit and it wouldn’t be possible with just two lines going in a plus sign. Did I like Bangkok? Maybe. I don’t know. It was a city and it was nice to check it out but I’m not rushing back and I certainly didn’t hold on to my Skyline card. (Still have my NYC metro card though.)

Next city was Chiang Mai, and I’m 90% sure I lost five years of my life and gave myself lung cancer in that city. Learning that the air in Chiang Mai is 4x worse than NYC air blew my mind. I couldn’t understand it. NYC literally smells awful, depending on your location but I’ve never left with my lungs hurting. But nevertheless Chiang Mai was memorable. Elephants and the first soul food I’ve had in months, and great times with friends. But again, I’m in no rush to go back. It didn’t impress me that much.

I can guarantee anyone when I go back to the states I will live in a city, New York to be specific. I work well in cities and it’s where I thrive. The constant stimuli is refreshing and something I need to thrive. While the cities here were interesting on first view they weren’t for me. I still have two years though so hopefully one of those cities will begin to grow on me.

*Disclaimer, if you love Thailand’s cities, good for you. I just don’t right now.

https://twitter.com/knowyourmeme/status/786282917924368384?lang=en

Problems at home

Good God, I’m bored. I’m bored and I’m on a budget and my fuse is running out. I have ideas I want to act on, meaning painting, nothing that’ll send me to the psych ward. I have places I want to go. I want to see different people. All together I’m frustrated. The good news is I’m aware of it. The good news is there is an end in sight.

Summer break is almost over at my site, and now all the pieces are beginning to fall together. And by fall together I mean I sit with my counterpart in silence nearly everyday and I match the lesson plans to the day and hope that all of my students stay on track and it all works out. I put the finishing touches on my classroom and I hope the students like it. My counterpart asks how I like my house and if I need to go to town for anything, usually my response is “I’m okay.” But then when everything is done for the day, I return home.

Contradiction time. Home is a very fluid concept for long-term travelers and it’s especially true for Peace Corps Volunteers, we land in our training site and stay there with a host family for three months, then we are moved to site and stay with another family for around two months then if we so choose we can move out and be solo. I just moved into my own house and I’m working on making it a home. Not easy. All the things that I would put in the home category aren’t available here and re: I’m Broke, I can’t get them. So no Yankee candles, IKEA is a stretch, and don’t even think about Etsy (although I’ve been saving art to print at a later date). Simply missing home decor? Is that really the problem? No, but in it lacking it creates this feeling I’ve had since arriving in Thailand; that this is not my permanent home. I feel as though I’m still ready to get moved in two months and what’s the point of unpacking if I’ll have to pack again.

For five months Home has been a missing word from my lexicon. I didn’t even use it to describe where I’m from. But now home is back, home has been a checkpoint and I’m there. Home happens when I pull food out of the fridge and after five long months I can cook what I want to eat. Home happens when I can dance and sing without fear of my host family popping in my room and judging me, so Hamilton and clipping. on repeat from 4pm- 2am (good luck neighbors). Home happens when I can sweep my house as many times as I want without my family thinking I’m weird or obsessive compulsive. (Truth is I just really hate having dirty feet, and I have white tile so every speck is visible) But home stops happening when I’m reminded I don’t have running water. Home stops happening when I can hear my neighbors yelling in Thai and I can’t tell if they’re talking at me or to each other. Home stops happening when I walk outside and feel the sun beating on me quite mercilessly.

I moved a lot as a kid. Being a child of divorce moving was common and my home would change week to week or custody agreement to custody agreement depending on what happened first. And you would think that this constant moving would make me great at handling change, but it’s my biggest weakness. Change subconsciously scares the shit out of me. My mom is always the first to notice too. She knows the change is bothering me before I know. When I finally catch wind of my reaction I even out, and I can begin to handle the situation, so finally having my own home should feel amazing but rather I have felt as though I’m suffering from Capgras Delusion. Everything is in place finally, but it doesn’t feel like its mine, it’s been moved so many times and taken up residence in so many homes and hotels I feel like it must’ve been replaced with an exact copy at some point.

I’m now aware of my reactions and I’m beginning my handling of the situation. I clean at least 5 times a day, I move furniture left and right, I take mental inventory and make a nest of my futon every night. Then I marvel at it momentarily. This is my home for the next two years. Better start hanging that decor.

Meeting the world my way