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Reflection: Rambling pt. 2

Originally written December 30, 2011.

 

Siem Reap, Cambodia.Turns out Thailand plays not-so-nice with its poor, abused, little brother to the South- though he gladly gives so many goods- at a cost, of course. The peoples of Southeast Asia have feuded nearly as long as those of the middle East.

I will say – that I believe – that in the name of no (not any) god can you wage war. There is no such thing as holy war. There is only human greed and idiocy.

Thailand’s “claim” to Preah Vihear is absurd, trying to take something from a country that has already lost so much. How Pol Pot was able to kill 3 million people in the first place… It boggles the mind. And what can they do now? In the face of corruption, what can be done? The story of so many nations in this world.

It makes me sick with anger and disgust… It makes me want to have Nothing to do with the human race.

I try and focus on the immediate, see the light in the smiling faces all around me… but they only want me to buy their scarves, or ride in their tuk-tuks.

Added reflection: Almost two years after this was written, the UN “awarded” Preah Vihear to Cambodia, at least up to a square kilometer around the complex itself. Apparently it is most easily accessed through the Thailand border (North) side, giving me all the more gumption to return to Southeast Asia on two (gas powered?) wheels, when I do.

Reflection: Rambling pt. 1

Originally written December 29, 2011.

 

As the (not double-decker) bus’s wheels go round N round, taking us closer to the Cambodian border, I’ll jot about one of my most favorite aspects of travelling, before my sandals leave “Thai soil” (what an idea; borders…).

The people! And their ways. Like how the Thai people on the right (sunny) side of the bus have pulled the blue curtains across the windows. Do American bus riders do the same? Actually – I am not sure if American buses have curtains. They certainly don’t have blue and gold tasseled window draperies. Bumpers?? I don’t know what you call these things. Buntings? I remember Mom making and hanging some in sea foam green in E’s baby bedroom.

My mom was what the clicking of the street woman’s sewing machine recalled to me last night. I’d dropped a long stretchy skirt off to her hours before, asking for it to be made into pants. The first pick-up time, they hadn’t been touched. I asked how late she’d be there, when I could come back and get them… “I be here! I sleep here!” And so she must; when we walked back on the nearly empty streets of Banglamphu at holiday times, late-night, she was again rummaging through a bin of odds and ends (spools of thread, medicines, shoelaces?) under the street lamp. She was busy, apparently, “lots of work!”

Besides being the first seamstress available, and her friendly face (and cool nose ring), she spoke good English. I wonder what her story is. To give her more time, and us something to do, we walked to the (of course) nearby 7-11. “Can I get you anything?”, I asked her. “Coffee!”, was the reply.

When we came back, with hot water for hot coffee and instant cafe bag, the sk-ants were still on the old Singer sewing table… As she chatted with a moto driver who’d stopped by. Maybe it was her son or maybe that was another who passed by. Either way (I just realised) she got family near, so at least she ain’t sleeping on the street alone… or maybe her bed isn’t comfy. It was just a few minutes more until she said, maybe, “You!” and told me to take a look. They looked great (I’m wearing em now). Scott had a good, sturdy T-shirt he was getting rid of, so I offered it to her. She liked the blue tee! And I paid her the agreed 100 B, plus 20 – like tip – and she smiled very big, saying, “Good luck to you! Cop kun mak na ka!”. And we returned back to the guesthouse, walking through the quiet, warm night.

 

Added reflection: The seamstress seemed intrigued by the project I presented to her. She laughed when I asked her to turn the skirt into pants, and said she had never done, or been asked to do, such a thing before. I explained, kicking my legs around, how much better pants would suit me than a skirt. She was a cheerful person, one who I remember well beyond these notes I made the day after meeting her. I hope to spot her next time I’m in Bangkok. Well constructed though they were, the sk-ants are long since departed.

on Loneliness

I think of you.

I think of you often.

I think of you often, though I know you must rarely think of me.

I think of you as I last saw you. What you were wearing, how your hair was combed, the weather on that day. These things are inextricably you, when I think of you. I know the weather must be different on any day, like today, and that maybe your hair has grown or you’ve a new scar and certainly something else that will remind me how little I actually know you, when I see you again.

Sometimes you join me for a meal, or an inside joke. Washing machine banter, or on a guest list for a party I’m planning (the one that only I will attend, the one that won’t happen).

I think of who you’d mingle with at the party, what songs I’d play because you like them, or really ought to have heard them by now. What booze is your favorite, and how drunk would we get?

Simply swimming in my mental myriad of yous, I drink my fill daily. Drunk, sometimes, on synaptical fanfare.

Your laugh never changes, and you are almost always smiling. Because you are beautiful, and enticing, and comforting. You, my friend, you live in my head.

I think of you, because I like to.

This whole blog-thing is a bit like juggling. Just kidding, I don’t know how to juggle! (Let it be noted that ICP and cronies have made it extremely difficult to use the word ‘juggle’ and its relatives with ease).

3 months, 16 days, and 8 hours, I’ve been… Out? Here? Where? Helloooo, rural America.

It’s a face and a place I never really imagined I’d see, or get to know. I’ve spent my time since arriving trying to figure out how to compress, translate, transcribe, transmit, describe what is so essentially mundane.

This place is full of easy rhythms. I imagine it is easier to adapt to life on the prairie than it would be to make a life in the big city. My partner in crime and I discuss this occasionally, at night after his long days in the field, over some variation of a home cooked meal. We feel lucky to have grown up in populous places, have spent time on the coast, to be Californians. It feels infinitely easier for us to move into Smalltown USA than for Smalltown USA to pack it in and head West like they’ve always dreamed.

I think it’s crap; if you’ve got a dream, you’ve got to put reins on it and ride it until it breaks down! (…says the girl with only a blog named for her musical alter ego and stalled basement studio) But sociopolitics play differently in Smalltown USA. Let me try and explain.

Big cities bring anonymity. You can be who you want, you can do what you want. No one will notice, no one will ask questions- hell; most likely, no one will care. Growing up in Smalltown USA, everyone knows your name. I’m not talking Cheers here; I’m talking a whole town network of gossips and spies. Good luck getting away with much of anything. And good luck trying to leave it all behind. It’s a whole different playing field, when everybody knows about you, and what you do. I won’t fully understand it, even after spending many more months here. Even if I spent years, I would always be an outsider here. I’m okay with that.

Being an outsider allows one a flexibility in a culture. Being an anthropologist allows one to more fully appreciate the depth of this fact… and be aware of its vulnerabilities. What will this outsider stir up in South Dakota? She didn’t accomplish much in Baker, Montana- but then again, not much has even been accomplished in Baker, Montana.

Nothing much of note, anyways. Which is how my Montana days unfolded. A little crafting here, a little checkout-clerking there. A lot of cleaning. A lot of cooking. Precisely the stuff that life boils down to; Netflix at night and a very-savored IPA brought in from 3 hours away. The stellar view out the windows (exactly two of them) has to be seen to be believed (see above). It was a life in a box. A box apartment, a box kitchen, a tiny box bathroom, in an old, ought-to-be-condemned box movie theatre building. Boxes can be safe and containing; it’s where we put injured birds (and dead things). If moving myself to the middle of nowhere with only an 80 hour workweek workhorse of a playmate to hang with made me a bit of a debilitated bird, that box in Baker is where my wings healed up.

For the horizons out my windows are now so expansive, literally. Life in South Dakota might’ve sounded more laughable than life in Montana, 3 months and 17 days ago. But after life in a box, the world starts looking like an oyster again. Let’s not talk about what might have happened if this unexpected move hadn’t occurred; I know the construction company didn’t have my sanity in mind… but something somewhere must have.

See, I’m not sure what exactly I’m trying to say here. Just that, Smalltown USA can be a pretty nice place to be. As long as you get out of the box.

life of a landscape-learner

before…

i know a thing or two about landscapes. i’ve spent some time, in some places, thinking about things… noticing.

it’s funny to look around myself in San Diego now, and really feel that i’m really going to leave this place. of course, i’ve left this place since 2003… but always ended up coming back. “That’s what I like about you”, said a dear friend, “You’re like a boomerang!”

but i’m really throwing myself out there this time. i’ve been ready to leave for ages now (supposedly) – and the time draws nigh! but first… i’ve got some business to take care of.

yeah, unfinished business! i’ve taken on the gargantuan task of landscaping a different dear friend’s house; for it is a beautiful edifice that deserves beautiful grounds. like Uncle Rico said, “Such a pretty face deserves a soft, lovely frame.” Uncle Rico would be excited to know that this house also contains beauty, literally! there’s four of us ladies a-livin here, each with a knowledge, history and beauty all her own… and a space all her own! we are sometimes messy, we are usually active, we are often laughing… i am so encouraged and happy to be in the presence of such cool, well, women! though i know this time is short-lived, i feel i gain and learn much just by being in proximity of such wonderful womanly examples.

“You’re like a southern woman, all covered up, hunched over in the yard takin’ on some project too big for herself!” said a friendly passerby, one of many. he also said that such women usually do said work while their man is on the porch drinking a Mai Tai (what man drinks Mai Tais, pray tell?) … i told him that certainly wouldn’t be happening.

one of the highlights of working in the yard all day is interacting with the local people who pass by. in North Park, there are plenty! lot’s of runners and dog walkers and teenagers, but also people who… notice. some are older folk, maybe those who don’t get a lot of conversation their ways. some must be the ones who had been asking when something was going to be done with the yard. almost all of them give me encouragement. a drag queen said, “It’s going to look so pretty when you’re done with it!” ; a guy with an accent said, “Good job! It’s lookin’ good! Are you in construction?”

and it matters. it feels good, to interact with people you didn’t know before that morning, to watch the traffic go by on the street you live, to feel connected to a pattern, a rhythm, a city, …a landscape.

as the old gets dug up my mind turns over the details of the new. like the woman at the nursery told me plainly, “There aren’t any rules. Pretty much, you plant ‘em so the strings go down and the point goes up, but you could do it the other way and it still might grow! So, you know. Do it however you want!”

i was talking about more than plants right there. about more than landscapes. did you notice?

…and after! yes, it even smells better now.

 

hot like summertime cheese in the sun

this says: “The Ideal Would Be… To have the heart in the head and the brain in the chest; so we would think with love and love with wisdom.”

it’s all American cheese singles on Ocotillo desert pavement, or Montana prairie, but it doesn’t change two simple facts:

1. Love should rule the world.

2. SHE’S BACK, Y’ALL!

stay tuned for more updates from yours truly. and stay cool!

it is strong but you are tough, but a heart is not enough

gggrreeeeetings, earthlings!

though i too am oh-so-terrestrial these days. i spend my hours occasionally bipedal, poking around in the recesses of my mind while watching dirt get moved around. i am a rat in a cage (despite all my rage!); secured in the safe confines of the Imperial Valley substation, working for a certain southern california energy company as we prepare for a new era of energy in the San Diego area.

so now i call El Centro home. i am fully embracing this agricultural valley, and all its noxious effluents that perfume the air, make my eyes water, and have my throat scratchy and sore. El Centro’s population of 37,000 is largely Mexican (fuck Hispanic, i’m really over that term, you know?!), accordingly Spanish-speaking, and about 30% unemployed. the fact that employment is what brought me and most of my co-workers to this town is one of the things i turn over during my long hours under the sun in a hard hat. mi nuevo abuelo Bobby Sanchez got me a brim for my hat; now the Paleontologist, Biologist, and myself (Archaeologist!) all match the station’s man-leader. Gloria doesn’t rock a brim, but that’s because she’s inside the circuitry buildings mostly. Girl Power!!!  the station is a funny little place, but darn normal when compared to some of the other sights around town. yesterday, an old man dressed as Elvis greeted me as he sat busking in front of the Post Office. his voice was actually kinda nice.

other things i think about while biding my time on the bed of ancient Lake Cahuilla : the chorus of ‘Grenade’, Britney’s electo-purr “showww me how you worrkkk it out, out, out”, Ke$ha’s kinda cool disharmonix on ‘Blow’. my new (rental) car and new (un-trafficky!) commute have got me surfing the airwaves. between the 3 radio stations that play American dance music here, one could probably listen to just these songs (okay, and, Lady Gaga’s righteous ‘Born This Way’, and too much ‘Only Girl (in the World)’  but hopefully more ‘S&M’ by Rhianna !) all damn day. Noventa Uno punto Cinco! is a pretty cool station, mixing in a good amount of rock and pop en español to the still abundant dance tracks. unce.unce.unce. these songs are too mechanical, uninspired; digitized noisemakers lacking heart, soul, or balls. when was the last time a song in the top 10 featured a real drummer?

…that question led me to try and find the answer, which only pulled me into an internet-wormhole of distraction and appallment. regardless, the top 10 mostly sucks but still finds a way to wiggle into my brain via earholes. okay, and it’s catchy and fun. it’s long days out there, son.

one of my two friends in-town got me the lovely cake pictured above as a welcome gift. it was lemony, delicious, and the nicest thing anyone has gotten for me in ages. (mm, here is a virtual slice of the double-layer cake for you. Boatwright’s Bakery… A+!) The ‘Tro and I are off on a good foot; it is ‘Hell’ and at the station we have nicknamed our workplace ‘Satan’s Playground’:

i am right where i belong.

the last text-words from a friend over the mountains to the West: “embrace the desert madness!” — indeed. only two weeks deep am i into this, but the sparks have ignited and the slow burn of this existence is my constant companion.

the passing of a recent romantical holiday included my second attempt (and fail) at wooing myself with a viewing of Chocolat and a whole bottle of vino. instead, the Biologist and i braved the El Centro sidewalks to eat some great fast-Mex (who ever said it needed to be slow?).  he has his reasons for being in the desert, too; and not just to tabulate pigeon droppings. i was happy for his company, and for the deep-fried burrito.

we all have our reasons, for living in a wasteland, or living wasted, or whatever it is. and as i attempt to sift through my own i continue to try and be aware of others’.

relationships. really are not about Whitman’s little boxes of chocolates (though they are good, ooo, back in the day my momma used to shower us with them!) or cliches or fancy dates. all of these things, these traditions, these precedents… serve only as hindrances. …when you’re trying to dig on someone who’s really just an asshole. but of course, love isn’t perfect. we must make it perfect. we have to work. to get along, to forgive, to respect one another. but can it be done? i’ve lost a lot of faith these past few years. it seems to me now that no matter how much experience you have had with other people, not a drop of it tells you shit about the new person in front of you. it’s back to square one. are you ready to work it out? am i? i like to think that love is and should be easy. that doesn’t mean that love always should be. what is pretty much the One reason for existence is still the thing that everyone’s always fucking up/struggling with/making art about. i’d call myself a hopeless romantic any day… emphasis on the ‘hopeless’ part. but there’s still comfort: as semi-Good-Luck-Chuck as i’d been feeling fated lately, i know for sure that other people feel the same. shit, maybe that’s why they made a movie about it….

forgive this rambling; i thought i had something good to say but it is obvious i need to spend some more time in my thinking (hard) hat. i have got plenty of time.

with that, i’ll leave you with a found-treasure. i believe it fell out of a book or the like, years ago in Plymouth, England. i forget this guy’s name (and the scanner cut it off; i guess privacy is important anyways), but i hope Nicki wrote him back.

Long Live Love! (chugs PBR, burps.)

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