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First Day of School

…and Ramadan.

I’ve decided to fast this year, which took some of the members in my community by surprise. A good kind of surprise though. My counterpart in particular thought that maybe I was joking at first. Took him a moment, but once he realized that I was serious, he jumped right in to take on the role of Islamic tradition expert.

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His best advice so far has been concerning dates and their ability to somehow keep you going throughout the day. According to him, dates and milk are the best way to break one’s fast. This morning, I took his advice and put some dates (five to be exact) in soy milk along with my muesli, and I gotta say, not bad … not bad at all. I just might be able to do this thing. Along with dates, muesli, and soy milk, I’ve also got coffee, honey, canned fish, whole wheat bread, and Nutella stocked up and ready. Bought a little container to pack my school lunch in to save for dinner as well. Food-wise, I think I’m mostly set…despite the fact that I’ll definitely be starving.

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As far as scheduling goes, I just received my class load today, and tomorrow, classes officially begin. Although I do believe Ramadan started yesterday, fasting officially starts tonight. I’ve got it all pretty much planned out. Had a little bit of time today during an after school meeting (that was all in Thai), so I jotted down a rough schedule of daily events to keep me on track. Not super sure if I can stick to it strictly, but I’m going to try!

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Covers all the bases I think. Still, I am rather nervous about the whole not drinking water thing. Just in case you didn’t already know, Thailand is by no means a cool climate country. I am constantly sweating. How third and fourth grade level kids are able to do it I have yet to discover. Right now, I’m bracing myself for some solid fits of dehydration. But, I’ll trust the community and its practices. Seems like everyone gets by without too much trouble. Hopefully I can do the same because, well, I’m basically staking my next month on it…

Wish me luck!

It’s already 9:07pm so I’m way past my bed time.

Gotta get that sleep in while I can.

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Setback for a Comeback

I’m really frustrated right now.

My day is just not starting out the way I had hoped.

Last night, I went to a high school reunion party for 62 year olds and it lasted until something like two in the morning.

It was a rollercoaster of experiences. Initially it was really boring, but then it picked up into something kind of fun. I was enjoying myself. Dancing, singing, eating, drinking. All was well with the world, until I was asked to spend the night. Nope. Against my better judgement though, I stayed. Push my boundaries … go out of my comfort zone right? It was an awful night. I hardly slept at all. Basically was forced to share a bed with an older gentlemen from the government office that I’m friends with, but he was definitely drunk and smelled something nasty. Came in while I was sleeping and turned all the lights on. Climbed into bed with pretty much nothing on but a towel and kept creeping on over to my side of the bed. At one point in time he was practically hugging me. Hated it so much. Kept telling myself to stick it through. You can make it Clarence. Just a few more hours before sunlight. Got up like five times to pee. Finally gave up around 4:55am and wandered around outside. Sometimes, nothing can prepare you for the worst. Made it back home around 6:15am red eyed and hazy. My mind was a mist of tangled thoughts and emotions. So much had gone on that I had suppressed under a smile. That, along with my trusty uncomfortable, awkward chuckle:

He-he-he-he.

At this point, I’m finishing up my April bpit term month and I haven’t gotten any of the things done that I wanted to. Tomorrow is going to be the first day of May and I’ve got so many things on my to-do list. So many things I need to work on personally. So many things I failed to do during my free time alone and to myself.

Being off of work so liberates you from structure that all productivity goes out the window.

Things I’ve tried to stay on course have proven ineffective. I’m back to square one and still struggling. My motivation right now is at an all time high, but so is my disappointment. Shame is starting to sink in.

Why can’t I just be perfect?

There are so many vulnerabilities in my shell, openings for painful setbacks.

What I need right now more than ever is a comeback.

Time to put my head down and turn this day around. Stop letting the little things pick at and tear me apart. I need to work out. Eat something healthy. Visit my host family. Catch up on emails. Write something (check). Read something. Study Thai. Dance. What else? Oh yeah, finish my curriculum for the upcoming school year and plan out my approach. I can do this. I just need to stop stressing out and get to it. Alrighty then:

Chill-mode - Deactivate.
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Summer Haikus

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Dozing on the sand.

There’s nothing to do but lay.

Out under the sun.

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A fun trip with friends.

Always starts with excitement.

And ends with goodbye. 

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Living our best life.

Means having an appetite.

And being grateful.

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While memories fade.

We’ll never forget the times.

We felt belonging.

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We are all open. 

To things we don’t understand.

Until they arrive.

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“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will be met with a success unexpected in common hours.”

– Henry David Thoreau

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Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.

I’m afraid of people and what they think – and so I have become who I currently am.

Every waking moment is a careful calculation. What will I do? How will I do it? What will I say? How will he or she take it? Is this okay to do? What if they don’t like it? When is the right time? Now? Later? Am I hogging too much attention? Am I being too indecisive? Am I being too nice? What will they think of me if I choose to do this? My mind is a buzzing hive of activity. Very little is left to chance and/or improvisation. I am constantly scoping out my surroundings and making adjustments to myself here and there, editing out the parts of me that I think won’t be accepted. Liked.

I wish I understood better the concept of the like. Like why we like being liked so much. Why do I like being liked so much. What is it with me and my obsession with checking my phone every hour or so after posting something up on Facebook or Instagram? Why does it upset me so much to not get a reply to a message on Line or Messenger when I know that person is online and has “read” my reply? Why do I spend so much time slaving away at responses, trying so hard to get it just right?

Why do I pretend to not care so much about the people I care about most?

This is me thinking out loud on a platform that I know is going to be read by at least one other person, and so even now I am wondering if what I am writing will change the way whoever is reading thinks of me forever …

But I think that the whole point of me writing here is for me to better understand. To come to grips with my life and the things that trouble me most about it. Like my fear of not being liked. My fear of being seen as somebody who I’m not, or at least don’t believe myself to be. My fear of being misunderstood. Misread. Mistaken.

There are pieces to this puzzle that come together during the times when I feel most insecure. They are the things I turn to in my frustration, my inability to be who it is that I would like myself to be. They are the things that give me pleasure with little risk of effort. They are the cheap things in life – drugs, sex, and alcohol. Things that, for me, point towards something deeper, because without them, we can feel lost. They are representative of our addictions. Those things we have used to fill in the gaps. Places in our lives that need filling. But it is only in removing what we already have in those spaces that I feel like we can come to find what truly belongs there.

Which is why I’ve decided to give up a few things for the next year, starting today.

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Faith & Certainty

Faith is a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.

I’ll admit it:

I’m a little scared of tomorrow.

Because honestly, I have no idea what is going to happen.

This has to be, at least for me, the most draining part of the Peace Corps experience. The not knowing. The who, the what, the where, the when, the how … the anything really.

Like this morning when I woke up to shouting from outside my window to find my neighbor’s kid waiting outside for me to let him in so he could come eat with me.

The daily struggle with water and never knowing if the tap will actually work or not.

Opening my door and having cats and kids come inside at random hours of the day to play, eat, and/or hang out in front of the fan.

Big bugs popping out of nowhere.

Roaches, rats, spiders, mosquitoes, and ants.

School days that turn into something completely else. 

Like tomorrow:

We have a festival of sorts going on, I think.

Mostly because I spent most of today helping set up for it.

Also though, because there are a bunch of stalls being set up just outside my house, complete with lights and music.

I’ve been told that I am expected to put on a dance performance, sing karaoke, and play on the teacher soccer team.

Totally last minute if you ask me.

But then again, how was I supposed to know?

I find myself feeling the pressure of the unknown.

And my natural tendency is to get frustrated. Feel nervous. Angry. Annoyed. Shut down. But for some reason, I am finding myself drifting towards a different way …

I’m beginning to realize that I am not quite the person that I used to be.

Yes, I am still afraid. And I feel it with every ounce of my being. That weird prickly feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me to run and kick and scream. But there is another feeling there as well and it’s an even weirder one:

It’s telling me to stay and make a fool of myself.

To not be afraid of being afraid, because there is nothing I can do to help it.

All the best parts of life are the ones that start with a challenge and end with a victory.

So make this time yours. Go in with all you got. Fight. Maybe win.

But even if you lose, there is nothing you can do to make the uncertainty of this moment go away. Win or lose the outcome is going to be the outcome. It takes faith to believe that no matter what, you will come out for the better in the end. Always.

If all things were certain, then what need would we have for faith in anything?

Odd as it sounds, I’m finding myself looking forward to the challenge of being uncomfortable and awkward … Two places where I know I’ll be in the coming hours.