Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
What a sad situation. Phom chawp len skateboard. Phom kgam long kit tung skateboard. Lae paw mae. Shantih shantih shantih.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Seriously, belly laughs. My class had never heard anything as funny as the phrase "Good job." They repeated it over and over to each other in between red-faced hyena cackles.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Last night for dinner I used the pointing method of communication to perfection. I pointed at the yellow noodles, and at the balls of pork, and at the clear soup, and I got all of those things, in a bowl, and a cup of ice water. I was quite pleased with myself, slurping my broth, sitting on the side of the superhighway (no joke), motorbikes zooming a few meters (that's Thai for "feet") from my table.
I point this out (Ha!) because this all has an obvious antecedent (that sentence has an obvious antecedent, too: I stole it from Lolita). At dinner on Saturday night, I ambled over to S--------- Street (I use those dashes not for propriety, but because I have no idea what the letters after 'S' are). I sat down in what I thought was one of my favorite noodle shops, with an English menu and delicious fried noodle soup. Turns out my memory, like most of my interpersonal skills, failed me, and I was stuck in this little cafe facing a receipt-sized piece of paper with about fifteen Thai words and fifteen check boxes.
Having learned from my mistake last time this happened (when I checked two boxes and got two mystery meats, which were not, as I had hoped, chicken or pork) I tried to say "chicken" and "noodles," but I did not know the tones, and so this was lost on my waitress/cook. There were five pictures of dishes on the wall, and she invited me to point at one. I pointed at some egg noodles, and then said "chicken" again. And then I said "chicken" again. And then, in the middle of the restaurant, I start flapping my wings, bobbing my head, and clucking.
Anyway, five minutes later my waitress brought out noodles and seafood. There were shrimp, I know, and then there was something white and waxy, like a human ear. Now, I'm not saying that for sure I ate a human ear; but last night, I pooped out a cochlea.
[Note: I told you there would be poop jokes].
[2: "pooped out a cochlea" is fun to say aloud. It's even more fun to say to waitresses. To one who does not speak English, "pooped out a cochlea" and "chicken fried rice" probably mean about the same, which is to say, little more than nothing.]
Moral of the story is, last night I got all up into the ingredients with my pointer finger. That sentence sounds more unhealthy than it is, but I have a point (Ha!): language is overrated. Not only would we be able to get as many basic necessities fulfilled without it, but we would also probably copulate a lot more.
And now I'm hungry. So call me Georges Seurat, because I'm about to go use my points.
So what the crap,
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Today, however, a stray black dog wandered into the room while I was taking attendance, trotted in front of me, circled back, and then laid down in the second row.
None of the students flinched.
"This is it," I thought. "I've finally gone crazy. Because I could have sworn I saw a black dog come into my classroom, and yet no one is laughing, or pointing at it, or whispering to each other."
So I walked over to where the dog was on the ground, and its eyes were closed.
"No sleeping in my classroom!" I cried, to polite but confused laughter.
(I think they were only laughing because I made a funny face, and not because they liked my Saget-esque joke).
I pointed at the dog.
"Is this okay? Is this allowed?"
No one knew what I was talking about. Dogs wander into classrooms here all the time, as often as teacher says something nonsensical, as often as foreigners get comically nonplussed.
So I taught the rest of the class with a sleeping dog in the second row. No one even looked at, much less petted it. At about ten minutes until the end of class, it suddenly got up and ran outside. I thought about making a lame teacher joke about needing a hall pass to use the restroom, but humor seemed hopeless at that point. No one thought a dog in class was funny or even interesting. Only me.
So what the crap.
I moved into my apartment yesterday.
First, the boring stuff:
It is on the fifth floor of a twelve-story apartment building, which is about a ten minute walk and 2 minute drive from the university where I work. The lobby is huge and Zen, with koi ponds and green ferns and a permanent echoing quiet. There is a free outdoor swimming pool (a huge plus in this heat), and my room is as spacious as there is in Thailand, and it has its own private bathroom. The rent is dirt cheap, even by Thai standards, for such a large and clean dwelling.
Now, the obligatory weird stuff
1. What Is This, A Trashcan for Ants?
The room comes with one pink trash can, which barely rises above the top of my ankle, and which was full after I stuffed two plastic 7-11 bags into it. I managed to wedge two used contacts in before it was bursting at its seams and had to be emptied. A second trashcan might be in order, or perhaps just an old, overturned fedora.
2. Hipster Bathroom Mat
The pattern of my bathroom mat is actually just a reprint of the cover for Death Cab for Cutie's 2008 LP "Narrow Stairs."
Okay, here is the Death Cab for Cutie cover:
And now here is my bathroom mat:
And I am like "wtf lolololol"!
P.S. Dear hipster police,
I know that Death Cab for Cutie is no longer hip nor perhaps was ever hip. Give me a break, "Hipster Bathroom Mat" scans really well and, in addition, would make a great ironic band name for a local electronica three-piece.
3. A Dual Monarchy
The room comes with a "king-sized bed," and my bed does take up an area equivalent to the area taken up by a king-sized bed. However, the bed is comprised of two twin beds pushed next to each other, and it appears I am destined to wake up in a crack for the next three months.
Speaking of which...
4. Skanks Are Good, Butt Hose Are Better
I spent 75 foolish cents on a six-pack of toilet paper rolls without realizing that my john has a butt hose next to it! Now this is no French bidet, no Japanese toilet assistant: this is a garden hose attached low to the wall next to the pot, which I assume you can use to either sprinkle your dinkle or pressure wash the old Bat Cave. (Those aren't real euphemisms, don't bother looking them up).
I haven't tried it out yet. The water pressure here is quite erratic--painfully fast out of the sink at one moment, a drip at the next--and I fear for the integrity of my colon and collective excretory system. Also, I can't imagine the sensation will be anything but unsettling.
In conclusion, I'm just not sure the butt hose is up my alley.
(I'll be here all week).
5. To Warm or To Dry
My landlady brought me a gift a couple hours after I moved in. It was folded up like a towel, it has the consistency of the towel, and its fringes are certainly towel-like. However, when she handed it to me, she said, in her very limited English, that this was my blanket.
Now, I have a "king-sized bed," and this "blanket" does not even fit over one of the twins. However, I have slept with it as a cover for two nights, and it keeps me warm enough. I think tonight I am going to ask for another blanket and see if she gives me the same thing.
At least then I will have two free towels, as I have no choice but to go buy a duvel or something for the market. Waking up with my bare toes under some cloth is worth the 10 dollars, I think.
Also I'm pretty sure I saw a Che Guevara blanket the other night. And if that's not what the revolution was about, then I don't know what is.
Then again, I have no idea who Che Guevara was, where he's from, what he did, or what his revolution was about. I can only assume it was about the right to illegally mass produce the likeness of a public figure on commercial products for pseudo-socialists and weakly-philosophical wannabe-cynical suburban teenagers.
Though the 2 I received on the AP World History exam would suggest otherwise.
6. A Net That Doesn't Catch
The thing about a net is that it is full of holes, and the Internet at the Chomdoi Condotel is no different. My connection is patchier than the left arm of a nicotine addict on a non-stop overnight flight. (Will Thailand kill my ability to create a metaphor, or did I never have one?)
This morning I entered www.google.com into my browser. I went into the bathroom, brushed my teeth, shaved, took a shower; when I came out of the bathroom, Google had yet to load.
Twenty minutes later I downloaded an entire album in 3 minutes.
It is quite frustrating, and it says something bad about me (or American society, for my unwavering apologists) that this is the feature of the Chomdoi that I hate the most and that makes me want to move out.
Right now the Internet is awesome--fast and uninterrupted. But, as Robert Frost once wrote about local area connections, "Nothing gold can stay." And so my Skype calls will be dropped, my Gchats sent and received at unpredictable intervals, my customarily constant download of all kinds of pornography sadly inconstant.
Also my Web Administrator has blocked the very helpful technology site "Lifehacker," so if anyone would like to set up a mirror site, please do so.
Anyway, there is certainly more to report about the apartment--the 13 inch television that must have been made by Tandy Computers, the setting on the shower which turns the stream from water to lukewarm horse piss, the sanitorium cushions that line the walls--but frankly, I am so far behind in writing on other topics (haircuts, diarrheal updates) that I will leave those for another day, ages hence.
Now if you'll excuse I'm going to go pressure wash the old Bat Cave.