Saturday, August 21, 2004

best birthday ever! (yet)

my birthday is almost over- two hours to go - and it was a wonderful one. my fellow teachers, who i only met two weeks ago, made me feel very special- two of them, a couple we're getting to know well, baked me a cake! totally unexpected. i got some birthday cards from my students, and well wishes from all of them. my aunt tried calling me repeatedly from america (we were out celebrating but i loved knowing she cared so much). i was awakened at 6 am by taher's family's enthusiastic "happy birthday"'s. and best of all, taher made my day really fun and gave me all the adventure and attention i could ask for. right now he is making us some chocolate milk as we end our day...

we set out today for the palace of the emerald buddha, but found it closed when we got there- so instead we visited the pak khlong flower market, where i saw about a million orchids casually lying about in piles and looking gorgeous. literally, baskets and baskets of them. these orchids, hot pink and orange and yellow and even aqua blue, are so expensive in america- here i got a big bunch of them for 10 bhat (25 cents). it was unadulterated happiness, walking around with my big bunch of orchids in one hand, taher's hand in my other, exploring bangkok... when we got too hot we rested in the shade of a random Wat (temple)- we left when a bunch of buddhist monks came filing out of the temple and giving us glances. we had a leisurely two-hour dinner, at the end of which we emerged into a full-on monsoon episode. what to do? we got a little wet :P we ducked into a random market, did a little window shopping, and then got on the skytrain and came home. it was just such a good day. a long day, a tiring day, but the kind of day that i couldn't have designed better.

as always on my birthday, i felt the love today. thank you to my family and friends for remembering and reaching out!

Friday, August 20, 2004

it's only/already been two weeks!

on the one hand, two weeks is a long time. on the other, we've barely begun. school is in full swing- it's the end of the first week and i'm well on my way to having the school-day routine down. getting to know the kids, figuring out how to get work done during free periods, meeting taher on our common breaks, chatting over tea with the other teachers in the faculty room... it's becoming familiar.

bangkok itself is not becoming as familiar as the school is- yet. we venture out and explore often, but living here, having a job here, is different than being here on vacation. we come home at four and we need to rest a bit before going out. so our adventures are smaller in scale and happening more slowly. i actually prefer things this way, though- if i see something i want to explore more, i know that i will be back. the first time i see something or do something here is not the last time. i have all kinds of time to come back to it. it's a nice feeling, the knowledge that i belong to this place for a while. we are relaxed foreigners- in the street, we are there to soak it in rather than see it all. we have time to take shopping detours for a couple of hours. we don't mind eating at the same place twice because we're looking for favorite hangouts instead of trying to try it all right away.

shopping here is out of this world. it's so fun. we're having a blast- two nights ago we bought these gorgeous throw pillows- they are just beautiful. simple and elegant and soft. i can't wait to keep buying things like this, that will be in our home for years to come. remember, i'm nesting!

i think that's all for now. i'm not much in the mood for philosophizing yet. nothing of controversy has really happened- but i'll be back. as always, stay tuned!

Friday, August 13, 2004

far from home, making a home

i'm due for a new post to my blog, i'm told. it is true- after months of talking about, planning for, dreaming of bangkok, we have arrived. it's our sixth day in this country so so many miles from chicago, and this time we're not here for a visit. or a holiday. or a honeymoon. or a glimpse. we're here for a year, and all that that entails.

our flat is spacious and sweet- two bedrooms, a large bathroom, a kitchen, a living room, and many tiny ants. chicago this is not! but the ants we will deal with, just as the other surprises we will deal with. in the meantime, we are settling in, decorating. buying amazing ceramic dishes, covering the couch with gorgeous rich material. drinking bottles and bottles of water. complaining of the heat. meeting our fellow teachers. beginning, in some minute but significant way, to fit.

after only a few days here, i am unable to fathom that we have 12 months ahead of us. i am excited, i am wearied, i am hopeful, i am thrilled, i am anxious. but above all i am confident that we are about to have the best year yet. today at school we found out what classes we'll be teaching- i found that i will have a homeroom class (5B), that i will be heading the Great Books committee, that i am expected to revamp the current yearbook. in one day, i have been given many responsibilities- why? i am certainly capable to using my imagination and being stirred to passion about literature and inspiring my students. but i think i am valuable in another way to this school. i am american- besides taher, the only one here. the other teachers? asians, all of them. i will bring something fresh to the way it works here- i will not revolutionize the curriculum- god, no. nobody wants that. but i will certainly let my ideas carry me away, and the impression i get is that nobody has done that here for a little while.

this will be a teaching experience unlike my last one. here, i am not only a foreigner out in the streets of bangkok, but also within the school walls. in cairo, i was one of an all-western faculty. this is not the case here. i am being given license to stir the pond a bit- this is a pond that needs some stirring. the principal has great plans for this coming year and i am proud to say he is excited to watch what i can do.

monday will be a fun day. please stay tuned!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

a brand new adventure

we leave for bangkok tomorrow... today is packing day. this week has been full of goodbyes- i have seen people for the last time, and called people for the last time. i've run last minute errands and in general run around a great deal.

all of this preparation, though, and i am still not quite realizing that in two days, we'll have arrived. that in three days, we'll be almost settled in!

at the moment, i don't have much to say about bangkok and the prospect of moving there tomorrow. i am sure, though, that in a week's time i will be bursting with news.

so, as i've said so many times before on this blog, please stay tuned!