:12/31--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

crowd and ferris wheel on khao san for new year's eve
mad at otto for not letting me know he wasn't coming home last night (he ended up drinking til almost 6am with his isaan friends), and for not defending me against his friend pun, i ignored him most of the day. we sat grumpily on the bed reading our respective books in the heat until it was dark. he refused to apologize to me and i refused to plan anything for new year's eve until he did. finally he said "just come with me to see mr. green and we can eat yang". mr. green is ot's "brother" (technically his cousin), whom i like a lot, and i was starving for yang so i agreed, though we still didn't talk to each other in the taxi on the way over. it wasn't until we got to mr. green's house that ot decided to talk about things- or rather bitch about them in thai to mr. green. i happened to understand everything they said and i told them so with a smirk. they looked guilty but defiant and i decided to spend new year's eve alone. i left and took a taxi back to khao san. i suppose i was in a petty mood today.

khao san was great! it was like the old days, crowded with cute people, lots of energy and things to see. i sat at an outside table with a beer and played voyeur, as i do best. the child gum sellers all dropped by for their 20 baht new years' gifts and pats on the head from me. after about 3 hours i realized i was really drunk, and staggered home to watch the countdown on thai tv. i was lolling stupidly on my bed with a bottle of beer in hand and the tv blaring when ot and mr. green knocked on the door. they barged in with ice, champagne, beers, and smiles and begged me to share new years eve with them. being inebriated already, i was malleable and gave in. we toasted each other, made some awkward conversation, and realized we had 8 minutes left before it was 2004, so we grabbed our ice and drinks and ran from my house to the park along the chao praya river. the very second we stepped on the grass it became 2004, and we shot our champagne cork into the air, sprayed each other, kissed everyone around, and danced and screamed along with the crowd. there were fireworks above the lit up bridge and decorated boats on the river. asians sure do know their fireworks- they are much bigger and more beautiful than any i have ever seen in the US. i closed my eyes and let the sparks (literally) fall upon me, and begged the gods in whatever form they might exist to let me have this moment back again.

we headed through the madness to khao san. where we found we couldn't even move in the crowd. we conveniently got stuck in front of khao san center, which was playing the best music. we danced like crazy as people dropped off all around us onto the plastic cup littered ground in their drunkenness. finally the police made us all scatter, so after otto and i ended strange conversations with the random people we'd been dancing with we collected each other and mr. green and went wandering for more action. adhere the 13th was playing jazz, with our german friend peter on saxophone, so we danced and hooted and drank some more there. finally we were all appropriately wasted for the occasion and we went to eat something before bed. ot terrorized the old chinese man at the corner stall with protests of hunger that needed immediate satisfaction or else, and mr. green grumbled that he just wanted to go home and pass out. we ate a pot of plain soup with pork and some rice and vegetables and finally made it home by sunrise.

:12/30--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

blurred clown
khao san road was all decked out today, complete with ferris wheels and clowns on stilts. it seems new years eve is a much bigger deal than christmas around here. i headed through the throngs of hipster kids (khao san has suddenly become the playground of the social elite in this city- all thai rich kids have replaced dreadlocked, smelly backpackers) towards otto's bar. had a night of comfortable boredom chatting in thai with his friends. i regret horridly the fact that i will probably forget most of my thai when i go home, not hearing it any longer. lots of the local workers stumbled by after their shops closed and down a few ja dongs, until we suddenly had an isaan-style party going, with music and dancing and drunk men abounding. the wives all tapped their feet with disapproving frowns in the peripheral, or tugged on the elbows of their man, trying to drag him on home. out of nowhere ot's friend pun (who was drunk) looked me right in the eye and said "i don't like you". i thought he was kidding and i laughed, but i noticed he wasn't smiling at all. i asked him "are you sure? mai chobb?" and he said yes. as i had just been listening to his bullshit about how he wants to cheat on his wife with some japanese girl for the last fifteen minutes, smiling and nodding even though i thought he was ridiculous, i was surprised that he would say anything like that. the kickboxer to our left raised an eyebrow and shook his head at me. i sat fuming for ten minutes and decided there was no way i was going to sit and pretend to be nice to the guy any longer (he had proceeded to pull up his pantlegs to show me his handmade tattoos). i tapped otto on the shoulder and told him i would meet him at home in a half an hour when he closed, and we could go eat and play on khao san then. he looked confused and shrugged and i left.

ot never came home, i waited until 5am and gave up, went to sleep hungry and pissed off.

:12/29--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

holiday lights at siam center

normal day. there is a mass exodus from bangkok as all the thais return to their homes for new years, and the streets are quiet and deserted. even the food stalls are not open, and ot and i have to walk a couple of kilometers each time to find food.

at the bar tonight a policeman friend of otto's stopped by with a puffed up chest and a disapproving frown and threatened to close the bar down for not having a legal license to sell alcohol. his diplomatic suggestion was that they pay him a bribe every day. what a pal. it's nice to know wht police have your best interests at heart. after a bit of a scuffle in which pee bo was taken to the corner station and given a ticket, they finally agreed that ja teep (the policeman) would get two free chang beers a day for keeping his head turned the other way.

:12/28--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

pigs with bad karma at the market
made an afternoon chatuchak (market) run to stock up on winter clothes for cheap before i head off to the ol' u.s. of a. big mistake; chatuchak at 3-5p is a madhouse. i kept getting this paranoid chill running up my spine that someone would drop a cigarette and the entire place would go up in flames. i don't even want to imagine the stampede that would ensue in the dark crowded maze of stalls. i gave all my change to a poor dirty kid who looked about 4 milking his newborn baby brother on the sidewalk. drank some freshed squeezed o.j. as i moved about a foot an hour, my toes being routinely stamped upon in the people traffic. eventually i bought a nice hooded sweatshirt, some knee-high socks, and a cute t-shirt with thai classical figures in the midst of coitus. almost picked up a little puppy dog while i was at it but didn't want to torture it with the 6 months of quarantine it would have to endure upon entrance to the US, and ot- who never had pets growing up- wouldn't have a clue as to how to take care of it here.

later i regretted visiting ot at his bar because i had to witness again the incredible idiocy of thai people when it comes to being diplomatic. a drunk friend came up and not so articulately offended them with his drunkenness. instead of saying "hrmm, the guy's drunk, we'll let him go sleep it off with no judgement on him as a character, as we are often the same when we have imbibed a bit too much" they had to blow it up into a big, dramatic, bottom line petty scene. there are rules for every little aspect of interaction with thai people, and it is really easy to break those rules and end up hurt or dead. i can't take it- it's all so small minded. thai people don't think much at all. they only see their small little slice of the world and believe it is everything. they have no interest in the outside world, in philosophy of life, or most importantly in seeing any sort of different perspective. (sorry, rant)...no wonder they don't progress. no wonder they are still 3rd world and have a potential dictator leading them once again. if you confine yourself into one tiny frame of mind and don't allow anyone to swerve away from it in the least without being ostracized, threatened, and labeled as crazy, then you can never progress as a people. the funniest part is it is all so hypocritical. everything is based on buddhist tradition of politeness and respect, while the majority of the population is breaking every single precept in the buddhist religion in their daily lives. i refused to witness the stupidity any longer and just left tonight. when i watch ot getting irate over something so small i am disgusted by him and can't picture myself ever coming back to him in future....finally i have found one aspect of american culture i prefer over thai. at least we are capable of thought, analysis, introspection, and are overall more open-minded (bible belt and texas excluded of course).

:12/27--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

home gun bar

great night at ot's 'home gun bar' (which means "come together" in isaan language). it started with a japanese hippie boy. he's an old friend of otto's, in town, and i clicked with him immediately. i love the matter-of-fact-ness and irony of japanese people and he made me miss my model friend taka (hearts drawn in crayon) horrifically and guiltily. anyway tetsu brought out his drum and ot played his guitar and it became a party on the sidewalk. several people who usually snub us drifted by and looked curious and sorrowful. lots of thai people congregated and brought food (fried fish, fruit, rice, pork). the muay thai (kickboxing) kids and mr. daeng mo (which means 'watermelon' and who hits on me every time ot turns his back) showed up to tickle and joke. later on some cute bleach blond art students from singapore (who kept saying "it's the next japan") dropped by to breakdance and sample the ja dong. a befuddled indian man showed up with his thai wife and attempted to fit in by yelling out random words to irrelevant songs... and on and on.

:12/26--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

memorial to innocent student killed

playing around on the orbitz travel site, i accidentally purchased a plane ticket from NY to denver on the 7th, meaning "home" i will be going!? i made a reservation at a hotel for a night in NY, and another one at a hostel in boulder, my clean whitebread home of 6 years ago and my final destination. it feels like a game, something to dramatize and entertain myself with until the last minute when i say "just kidding" and can breathe a sigh of relief with ot over. i can't really see myself leaving here but at least i have everything planned if it comes down to that... ot meanwhile was beside himself with misery when i told him.

vocational and technical students in bangkok have been killing each other all over the place. there is an increasing gap between rich and poor in bangkok, prompted by PM taksin's dictatorial initiatives. the students can't afford to go to real schools and are looked down upon in society. in reaction they team up against each other and try to kill rivals for being rivals, taking out their shame and aggression on each other. today otto and i saw the memorial at thammasat university for a young girl who happened to be in the line of fire. the kid that accidentally shot her instead of his attackers was 17. within the day, a group of tech students boarded a city bus to attack another rival student onboard. when he refused to get off the bus and fight with them they pushed his innocent uncle out the open door of the moving bus. the driver, who had refused to get involved or stop the bus, simply ran over the uncle. pretty sad, and crazy the amounts of senseless rage thai people seem to possess! i suppose it's the same principal as black kids in american ghettos, but thailand seems too innocent to get caught up in all that.

:12/25--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

discovered that BK has american style fruit pies for sale! an excellent xmas gift to myself

i can't begin to convey to you how boring christmas is in bangkok. but someone pointed out to me that christmas is boring pretty much anywhere. i disagree- if i was in a transylvanian castle looking out at the misty landscapes from my window next to a roaring fire with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, fantasia on the tv, and an attentive harem of elves (as an afterthought), i think i would not be bored. but i suppose otherwise that is a good point. in thailand it is just another day. i got a couple of bulk e-cards from friends and that was the extent of it.

:12/24--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

khao san xmas

christmas eve in a country full of indifferent buddhists in 90 degree weather is not so christmas-y at all. even less so than in vietnam last year (which in retrospect i'd do again). i suppose i just have to turn off the part of my brain that cares. i am not christian and it's totally overcommercialized anyway.

it was almost a good night with muscle boys mido and his friend da. until da started running his finger up and down my forearm and saying i was just like a baby monkey. ot suddenly shouted at him to stop touching me, and his surly coworker bo joined in, embarassing da and forcing him to leave with his friends. argh. i was fairly offended myself as i am not otto's property and i am quite capable of drawing the lines where they need to be drawn. thai men seems to have an inferiority complex about their dick size, and spend a lot of time trying to compensate with aggressive posturing and humiliation. bored and disgusted, i left in a huff as well.

i wandered to khao san to get smashed alone and failed. the big street party that had been promoted all week ended up being a few listless ladyboys dressed in elf costumes and conversing in thai onstage. there were virtually no westerners. i drank one watered down singha and gave up and went home.

:12/23--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

figures saying hi
worked at the office, boring, mostly my stuff but i threw in some legit stuff for good measure.

later on i was chatting with a certain friend on IM and ended up offending him horrifically. i am a big proponent of honesty but it does tend to get me in trouble. sometimes he becomes a little too big for himself. he seems to think he isn't human but some sort of all knowing god with little regard for other people except as ignorant underlings to manipulate and use. i explained to him that every narcissistic neurotic thinks the same. this is not the sum total of his personality, but it is something i have a hard time accepting quietly about him. though he is brilliant and does see and possibly feel much more than the average person, i have always thought he could put that to good use, but instead has decided to put it to bad use, and looks at humanity as so many weeds to trample upon... but that's me imposing my moral judgements on him, being hypocritical i suppose. anyway he overreacted and vowed never to talk to me again. i know him well and know he is capable of really never talking to me again. when i got home i ended up feeling guilty and bad and couldn't stop thinking about it. i emailed him an apology but got no response...again, i think no one can ever be expected to fully understand another person, and thus i will continually disappoint my friend in this way. but like he says it is few and far between people who matter, and i thought i was one of those people to him.

tried to teach ot to play farang guitar and to convince him & ning to move the bar somewhere w/more business, as in the current situation, next to a khao san dumping ground and across the street from where any farang might conceivably visit, they make very little money. listened to xmas music on my half cheese (n'sync etc.) mp3 collection as i read my new book.

:12/22--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

otto putting on deodorant at home

spent the day updating this site and my main tremblingstar.com site, which is nowhere near finished but i wanted to get it up while i had an internet connection. i am debating over whether i really want to continue this journal, now that i am. when i first started writing i felt like i wanted to share something with the world. too many people leave no mark at all, and though i am nothing special at least i can have my say. but i have since realized the world is mostly blind, and people like to steal my words and twist them and throw them back at me in their jealousy, pettiness, ignorance. i do get several mails from people with interesting insights that i do not regret receiving, but overall it is my life and i suppose anyone who puts themselves out there after awhile realizes the futility of expecting people to understand it. everyone has their own prejudices and no one seems to be able to look at things without imposing their individual moral judgements... until for me my life has been translated into something other. in the end i feel sort of robbed, though i gave myself away freely to the robbers...make any sense? anyway for now like i said i need the outlet, and i will continue to write for myself. today 'x' gave me a very thorough and helpful critique which has prompted me to re-vamp my site yet again but makes sense.

meanwhile at work the nice indian man showed his true colors by sitting back, rubbing his belly and blatantly reneging on an agreement we had made. i won't go into details for now but there is a reason i dislike and distrust these people. otto says thai people all know that you should never do business with an indian.

watched a movie about death row. kevin spacey over-acted and the plot was typical and predictable but nevertheless it creeped me out as someone i know very well is currently existing on it. i like to ignore that fact, i don't want to think what that existence must be like. i don't really have an opinion on capital punishment, as both life imprisonment and the death penalty seem like hellish punishments to me. if i were in that situation, i would take whatever the roll of the dice deemed appropriate.

:12/21--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

90 degree xmas

missing our nightly dvd (which we had going for awhile), ot and i decided to go to pantip plaza and stock up today. i spent way too much money on pirated movies and the couple of porn disks that ot managed to slip in. but feeling satisfied that our nights' entertainment is taken care of for at least the next week we headed on the bus back to banglamphu. ot went to open his bar and i went home to see that my neighbor was putting up a christmas tree with her little girl, had spread poinsettias everywhere, and was blaring christmas music. i am happy about this as it is the only exposure i will likely have to the holiday this year.

things are settling down quite nicely, which is dangerous for me.

:12/20--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

modelling for ot post ja dong shots

ot and i slept late today, and then i had planned to work on my sites but ended up at the bar again instead. another night of great fun. thai people may be poor but they know how to make do and have a good time, and i must say i envy ot his job, as it beats mine any day. we made a new sign with the menu for the 8 flavors of ja dong (which "cures" everything from backaches to impotence) and then for good measure had a shot of each. ot strummed pensively on his guitar like a superstar when the muay thai boys showed up again to play, and he sang along in a scratchy, sexy voice. i fed a scraggly kitten and kept things in order.

:12/19--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ot's new bar

my indian boss is a big softie. originally we had agreed that i would help him for 10 days straight, including weekends and christmas day. when i got home i realized the ridiculous folly in this. so yesterday as i was leaving i slinked into his office, asked him all sorts of questions about himself and how he had come to be a super magnate, to make him feel warm towards me, and when it worked like a charm he looked at me with affection and said "do you want to come in tomorrow and sunday?" i said no. and thus i have today and tomorrow off. yippee! tonight was the grand opening of ot's bar. in the khao san area there are several small sidewalk bars like this. but not with such friendly guitar strumming owners and 8 choices of 'ja dong' available in addition to cocktails, beers, and non alcoholic shakes. i think it's a good deal they have going. they had only a few customers tonight who were not friends, and everyone except me was thai, but a great time was had by all. ot impressed everyone with his sexy bartender skills. all the patrons impressed everyone by getting smashed on ja dong. all of the owners are from isaan, and like i mentioned before that means they are all generous and fun loving. they ended up in a circle singing at the top of their lungs- redfaced from several bottles of ja dong they had put away, passing around food and bottles, jokes and massages. the boys from the muay thai (kickboxing) training center came to join us in all their muscular virility. the taxi and tuk tuk drivers lined up to get likkered up before a long night of driving (!?), and by the end of the night i was the center of attention, being the only girl in a circle of drunk and deferential thai men.
:12/18--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

temple corner

another satisfying day at "work", made partly up of a long political conversation with 'x' on IM. i really should not discuss politics ever though, it gets me so livid. for instance, prime minister taksin has not only declared that there will be no alcohol served in thailand over new year's (the 29th-4th), but that he wants to start making all bars shut down by 10pm. ha! that is the stupidest idea yet. not only will the people revolt, but they will lose hundreds of thousands of jobs (especially in the sanuk industry), and thailand itself will lose millions of dollars in tourism. the thing i don't understand is that thailand is supposedly a democracy, but PM taksin often makes a decree like this and it seems to immediately go into effect with no vote or debate. that doesn't sound much like democracy to me. according to the media, this is because the government has completely been bought out and there are no longer any checks and balances available to keep things reasonable. sounds dangerous. thai people are generally so subservient and complacent though- as long as they keep getting the free tvs and cellphones he keeps passing out to the poor, they won't do a damn thing to protect themselves.

:12/17--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

barboy again

my day at the office was uneventful, my coworkers (whom i really sort of grudgingly like even though they are indian) leave me mostly alone and i ended up talking to 'x' on IM for a long time, as he has finally been able to move out of the bad situation he was in (see his journal update coming soon) & into a great place, where he is happy and therefore wanted to share his glee. besides that i got a lot of satifying work done which should impress the jewelry magnate.

when i got home ot was brooding about the fact that he can't contribute much to his friends' bar but i tried to make him feel better by dragging him to the art supply store and buying some flourescent signboard and paint markers, with which i made him a big english sign/menu for the bar. he cheered up immensely after that, and we skipped together to khao san to show bo and ning (his partners). they seemed happy too, as they had spent the day stocking up on ja dong, going overboard and buying 8 different vats of the herbal whiskey to sell. they chatted animatedly about their plans (including giving otto a hefty salary, thank god) while i scanned khao san from my perch on the steps. i noticed a tall, rambling, sort of awkward old german man and fuzzily recognized him. it took me ten full minutes of wracking my brain to realize who he was but then i remembered! i had met him a year ago in laos! (see dec. entries- jules the mystic). i really like him and wish i could have said hello, but alas, by that time he was gone.

:12/16--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

my nightmare brain

ot and i both ended up having horrific insomnia last night. sometimes when my brain gets going it's like a broken fire hydrant spraying all over the damn place- i can't control the flow of thoughts and sleep is entirely elusive. ot of course takes up the entire bed too :)- i inevitably end up hanging off the side by my tippy toes with just a corner of the blanket, which isn't so conducive to sleep in the first place. i hit him a few times and he scooted over to allow me a space exactly the size of my body, no more no less, until he eventually gave up his writhing too and turned the lamp on to write. i groaned and hid my head under the pillow. the five minutes or so i did sleep were filled with gruesome nightmares of this super creepy thai man on khao san road. i saw him in a police uniform one day, walking with the other boys in brown down the street looking appropriately stern and disapproving.... only his eyes are all whacked out, they go in all different directions. his mouth is twisted into a scar, he has a weird dent on the back of his head, and a dime-sized mole that looks malignant on his cheek. he was creepy enough to begin with, but then ot informed me that he isn't really a cop, he is just a local crazyman who likes to dress up in their uniform and pretend he is one. he has been thrown in the slammer several times for imitating a policeman. now it seems they mostly just tolerate him until he freaks a tourist out a little too much....that would be me. my dreams were full of him creeping in the shadows with a big tree trunk in hand, one side of his face painted green and the other red, snarling and coming at me. yeeeewww, shiver...

so half awake my first day on the "job". my current deal is with an indian-owned jewelry and gemstone import-export company. the office is no frills, but full of piles and piles of loose gemstones laying around everywhere, which makes me weirdly nervous. the building is in the middle of freaking nowhere in a desolate warehouse district (with no options for food around). the only reason i agreed to help them is because if i can get in good with them they might help me find a position as the importer-exporter girl, which is a perfect job for me. it's a hell of a sacrifice for me meantime though because the people drive me totally nuts. the owner is a kindly, overbald, round-bellied man... but very high strung and verbose and anal, as indians in my experience typically are. apparently he is some kind of powerful magnate- every underling in the office practically crawls on their knees to follow his every whim. i find it amusing, and i refuse to submit to it myself (using the brilliant excuse that i am an ignorant american)... but he seems to respect me. i did an excellent impromptu presentation upon our first meeting, surprising even myself with my verbal acuity for once. and i can see that he is neurotically organized and meticulous and saw the same in me. i just have to get through nine more days without pissing him off. then i have to think of a way to hit him with the "please please please hire me to travel for you" proposal....

i spent part of my day today emailing the very anxious 'x' noncommital agreements to meet him in the US in a couple of weeks.

:12/15--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'x' is missing asia
it's hard to believe it is almost christmas with the 90 degree weather and all, but actually today it got down to 17 degrees celsius (whatever that is) and i was freezing my little arse off. the ice cold showers in the morning don't help- in fact they throw me into an instantly bitter mood first thing. that and the yappy little dogs outside my door. anyway nevertheless i found some singing christmas lights in chinatown and strung them around our room today, hoping to add a little "cheer".

ot knows i am leaving soon, and this bothers him quite obviously, in more ways than one. i am not going to fool myself [defensiveness] into thinking it is not at all about money because i am sure part of his misery is due to the lack of my constant flow of generosity (at least as backup), but besides that he seems to really think he will miss me. though i am naturally dead set against any sort of domesticity, after 11 months i have to admit it will be weird not to sleep with him wrapped around me like some kind of unweaned baby monkey, and to not be able to listen to his incessant prattling :)... especially if i am gone as long as i think i will be at home. everyone knows us and respects the fact that we are still together despite ex-problems, we are the couple amongst the khao san crowd (not to mention ko chang). tonight before i went to sleep otto begged me to marry him, and when i said no he begged me to at least let him come visit me in the US. which i agreed to knowing there is no way in hell he will ever get a visa. he still insists on at least buying a pair of promise rings so he has something to keep up his hope, but i don't know where he thinks he'll get the money for that. he went to sleep pouting and sighing, wrapping himself around me and and clutching me like it was our last night on earth together. right before i fell asleep i noticed he came really close to my face and sat breathing deeply inches from my nose. when i asked what he was doing he smiled sheepishly and admitted he was trying to breathe the same air i breathe. it made me feel a little sad and i ended up staying awake thinking about it long after he dropped off.

:12/14--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

sculpted metal figures at chatuchak
still feeling utterly not up to facing the world today i moped around the house trying to work on my sites and getting distracted by thai game shows, while ot sleepily massaged my feet, played guitar, and wrote whatever it is he writes (can't peek because i can't read thai) in his writing book. finally in the afternoon i convinced him to go with me to chatuchak market so i could look for some winter clothes to take back to the US with me (also, someone stole my favorite 'hunting rabbits' shirt out of the laundry- along with most of my underwear, grrrrr- and i wanted to replace them)... but the trip was doomed before we even set out, as i remembered i hate shopping unless i am alone. i am not one of those girlie girls who makes her boyfriend wait while she smacks her gum and tries everything on and spends money like it's all going out of style tomorrow. i feel entirely too shy and too guilty to shop in front of people. so i led us immediately to the pets section, patted a few big eyed baby animals, grabbed a couple pints of guava juice, and we hopped in a cab back to banglamphu.

otto's 2 old friends are starting a new bar near khao san and they asked him to be the bartender, which is a relief to both of us because it should mean some steady income for him again. but they all spent tonight buttering me up with bottles of beer and trying to get me to contribute to their cause as a"partner". i went so far as to get a quote on the alcohol stock, but i balked when i saw the total and declined. the funny thing is, it only takes 50,000 baht ($1250) to start a decent, well stocked bar here and these three are struggling really hard to come up with that amount. i can make that amount in 4 or 5 days at home.... i felt really guilty. though i do have the money right now i don't want to spend it on a venture that will become fruitful after i leave, so i had to bow out early and head home.

:12/13--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

what would the buddha do?
woke up feeling absolute inexplicable rage. completely directionless, dangerously antisocial. my recent reading material has all been pretty grim (damn you margeret atwood!), with statements such as "life is an ocean of ennui with islands of joy, and the older you get the less you see of land". yeesh. somehow it got inside my brain and planted a dissatisfied seed....i wanted to destroy, break... kick the ma nois in the yard, push the fragile old lady trudging slowly in front of me off the sidewalk, tell otto every last thing i feel about him in the worst of moments. despite all that there is my ever present feeling of being bottlenecked. 'x' told me once i have to learn to be messy. sleep late, forget to shower, lose control. stop being neurotic and that pent up rage might dissipate a bit. if you think too much you can never be happy.

but i managed to avoid people today until miraculously and thankfully by the end of the day i chilled. it is, coincidentally, a full moon.

otto in turn came home from seeing his idol in concert (the first real concert he has ever been to- he snuck in alone), and he was in one of those thoughtful moods he is rarely in. at times he says things that are really insightful which make me think he thinks a lot more than i give him credit for. tonight he was disturbed by the fact that the idol has seemingly sold out, and now owns a mercedes benz, has cut his hair, gotten fat, doesn't bother to dance on stage while he sings... i reminded him that the guy is now 53 years old, and that just depressed him further. i think ot is fearing getting old before he realizes his dreams... aren't we all?


:12/12--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

figures fashioned from heavy yarn by my friend kai
i have done a lot of people watching on khao san road lately, since otto is now working there. there are more thai people than foreigners on the infamous road these days. meeting them all and watching them interact, i have realized that thai people are very different according to their origins. the isaan thai people, though generally of the lowest class, are my favorite. they are the poorest and have the worst (mostly undeserved) reputations for laziness and greed, and are usually hopelessly out of date, but they are the happiest, friendliest, and have the most fun of everyone here. bangkok people and the kids from chiang mai seem more driven, materialistic, superficial- like most city people in the world i suppose. i like their sense of style, energy, and relative worldliness but they have attitudes and priorities that i don't dig at all. the southern thais are the ones i like the least though. they seem cold, less friendly and open, more concentrated on getting what they want at whatever costs. otto says they are known in thailand for having no heart... hrmmmm. of course these are stereotypes of big groups of people that i really don't know, and there is a lot more of the country to learn about before i could really accurately judge. i am just relating impressions based on my experience thus far.


:12/11--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

beautiful tree at ot's brother's house

spent today hanging out and watching pirated dvds all day (including his brother's porn collection- from which i learned japanese porn is gross) with frustrated otto, who still has no stable work other than khun yai's shop, and is profusely apologetic and ashamed to the point that i feel the same. i tried to get him to relax, have a day off from searching. later we spent some time on khao san people-watching, the local riffraff, nothing new.

:12/10--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'x''s recently built igloo

nightmares about big square shouldered, blank faced ghosts, some i could talk to and some i couldn't. i had to hunt down a witch to help me interpret the mute ones, who seemed in desperate need of communication. the witch happened to be a girl named mo on ko chang that i know of but rarely talked to. it's funny who you run into in dreams. she told me with her black lidded eyes and pale stare that if you make peace with them they leave you alone, and to just "feel" them, don't try to communicate. then it skipped to my friend katie, who is better than me at everything, smiling at me underneath her mess of long blonde curls and pushing me onstage at a tv talent show. i was supposed to dance and do something complicated with my hands at the same time (juggling maybe?) but i froze instead into an inept icicle. i was thinking to myself that i have been eating too much meat, feeling unhealthy, breeding cancer. sleeping too much, becoming sluggish. 'x' rescued me by calling me outside to view his newly constructed igloo, where he was hanging out naked... which startled me awake. interpret that one, will you?

:12/09--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

the smelly courtyard of my apartment
one of those days where i am spooked into almost running for my life. i don't know quite what happened in my head to differentiate now with all the similar circumstances that came before it. i think it must have been a letter i wrote to my friend katie. in it i told her i have suddenly found myself in the midst of a life of sublime domesticity with ot... then i reflected on that word "sublime". i revised it to myself--- confused, detached, alien came to mind... then i realized with shock that i had applied the word "domesticity" to my own life! and then of course there is ot! suddenly i realized i am not sure i want this life at all! i miss my life, i miss me for buddha's sake! but i don't know how to get back to who i was and what i had before, while retaining what i do love about here and about ot... someone told me i need to just stop running but they don't understand. i don't move out of fear, i simply have a hard time staying in one place without getting horrifically bored. i feel like there is so much more to see and such a short time to see it in, how can i stagnate? hrmmm. what to do. admit i am human?

on days like this my brain is hopelessly one-sided, and my writing simply reflects a mood. days like this i feel the first step is of course kicking out the hopeless ot, for the umpteenth time. that we just don't match.... days like this i get emails saying "are you kidding? wake up!". days like this i feel he goes against everything i have ever believed in (honesty, integrity, ambition, lust for life), and that he has not a damn thing to offer me... days like this i think maybe i just wanted to see the other side of things for once(?).... & that something maternal in me still wants to save him even though he has proven beyond doubt that he doesn't want saving. days like this i think i should let him squirm and writhe with his own inadequacy alone, as he is not my responsibility, and i should just suck it up, admit i have been using him for sex (or something) and that it's just been easier to ignore him and let him stick around than to constantly fend him off, and i should move away one day with no forwarding clue as to where i have gone... (in other words, days like this i blame ot for everything). days like this i think i need to decide which country best enables me to live the life i really want and get to it, fast. enough fucking around.

but there is another whole side to the story- i just forget it on days like this.
:12/08--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

cousin neng's homemade chopper

i spent all day with a tooth-gritting crick in my neck, as i was hunched over my screen working doggedly on my freelance project for 'a'. i used to think i couldn't design but i have since realized there is nothing to it. maybe somewhere along the lines i became good at it. in most cases, you just get paid to translate someone else's very bad ideas into a very bad site. nobody really wants a designer, they want a mirror of their own brain. thankfully not so in the case of 'a' though. their design is quite admirable, and i am simply modifying it a bit.

i called ot around 7 to go get dinner because as usual he doesn't call me when he promises (argh). i needed to get out of the web developer frame of mind though and as he is the only person i exchange words with in my week of isolation, he becomes my default dinner companion. today he had to go to the dentist to get antibiotics for one of his horridly rotten back teeth, which if i think about disgust me to the point where i fear i cannot kiss him on the mouth ever again. poor kid. i managed to deftly sidestep several puppydog-eyed hints from both the dentist and ot that he needs several different surgeries and treatments performed in the stench-filled cavern of his mouth, totalling around 1800 baht. but i digress. we set out purposefully towards banglamphu market for some tom yam talay, thai style, with coconut. in place of the tom yam talay, thai style, with coconut stand was a huge stage decorated with balloons and banners, proclaiming a street celebration. on top of it waddled a ponytailed thai man on a unicycle, accompanied by his luridly dressed 6 year old assistant. they did such funny things as pull farangs up out of the audience, make fun of their lack of thai understanding, and shoot darts at balloons they'd attached to their farang nether parts. it was a very typical laugh but the thai people were rolling on the pavement like it was the funniest thing on earth. sheesh. ot and i stopped by a naam stand and shoveled down the garlic sausage with bites of raw ginger and cabbage. next we headed to soi rambutri, where our favorite yang shop served us yang (chopped steak with pepper sauce and sticky rice). i hovered around bored as ot chatted for about 2 hours in thai with a friend.

we went to khao san road next, to drink, as that is what it's best for. we met some of ot's long-haired thai friends and i sat listening to them talk about music in thai, first at one outside cafe and then at a cold, shiny, wooden irish pub on the top floor of khao san center. we got pretty drunk and watched the thai band play horrible, embarassing versions of popular farang songs, until i finally couldn't take it and left,

:12/07--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

mexicano in style

worked pretty much all of today, and ot did too, selling at 'khun yai's' (grandma's) shop. she is a feisty old lady who sells clothes and sparkly knickknacks on khao san, and she adores otto. at least i have seen evidence that he is trying, though i see no evidence of it being fruitful in the form of hard cash yet. (he is not making money apprenticing to make silver jewelry, and has to resort to playing his guitar on the street when not at khun yai's). the more i learn about the people on khao san the more i feel for them though- they all work really hard and live hand to mouth, depending on the fluctuating whim of rich farangs. there is a 15-year old orphan girl from burma who also works with khun yai. she starts at 7 in the morning and goes to sleep at 2 in the morning every day, she makes about 80 baht ($2) a day if she is lucky. ot and i went to have drinks the other day and we asked the waiter what his salary was. he said 50 baht per day ($1.25) for an 8-hour shift! i forget thailand is a developing country. i remember the shame and hopelessness of being unemployed myself too, having to depend on 'x', and i ease up on otto. he has no backup, unlike most people, and he is simply poor. it takes money to make money, as they say. i don't mind helping him, i just hate to feel that sometimes it crosses the line into being used.

i had mouth-watering dreams of chips and salsa, fresh sliced avocados, piping hot loaves of white bread, and thick aromatic cheese that woke me up almost crying this morning. so tonight i couldn't stand the craving anymore and forced ot to get a taxi with me to suk soi 18, to hunt down a mexican joint i had read about. i figured that like most mexican joints it would be simple, casual, and cheap, but it was in fact none of the three. it was in the basement of a very ritzy hotel. we showed up in our shorts and flipflops and noticed right away the big sign saying "no shorts and flipflops". the nice thai girl dressed as a mexican girl ignored it guiltily and led us to a candlelit table. ot was ashamed, as not only has he never eaten mexican food before, but he has never eaten in a restaurant in which they have folded handkerchiefs instead of toilet paper tissue rolls at the table, and a man to massage your shoulders as you pee in the quietly lit, suspiciously fragrant restroom. i ordered him sangria and a sampler of a couple of different things, and a burrito plate for myself. we watched a skinny, awkward old korean couple do the salsa in front of the live mexican band, and ot enjoyed the garlic and chili flavored entrees. the food was pretty authentic, but the price (almost 2000 baht) was not. nevertheless a good time was had and i enjoyed showing ot something new.

in keeping with our mexican theme we hijacked a shop at pantip plaza right after they closed and made them re-open and sell us a dvd of 'once upon a time in mexico'. both of us fell asleep at home about ten minutes into it because as ot said balefully, it was mai dee.

:12/06--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

my decidedly fake visa
a visa run to cambodia today, which was more of a hassle than ever, but entailed my sitting for 4 hours on the main street of the dusty border town of poipet waiting for my return bus. i have said it before and i will say it again- there is something beautiful, almost ethereal about cambodian people that i just can't pinpoint. i dunno... when i smile hello to young thai kids they give me a point blank drop dead stare in return. when i smile hello to barefoot starving cambodian children, they give me huge bright toothless, genuinely happy smiles and wave at me with grubby hands, peeking shyly around their tattered mamas. and the adults are the same! i had an overwhelming urge to make a run for it, and almost headed for siam reap, but i didn't want to abandon my laptop with ot, so i grudgingly caught the bus home with a baguette and real coffee (profuse thanks to the french influence in cambodia) in hand. all the travellers on the bus were jabbering tritely to their seatmates, and mine (a shaven headed boy from manchester with piercing blue eyes and hairy legs) gave me a slightly wounded frown and tried to start his own conversation, but i got sick of the typical traveller exchange over a year ago and turned resolutely to the window, upping the volume on my walkman. the countryside was beautiful and serene... water buffalo herds, rice paddies, tribal families...the usual really, but as i usually sleep through these visa runs it has been awhile for me. i realized as i watched life flash past my window that really I JUST WANT TO FUCKING TRAVEL and that's it, and i hit myself for continuously getting so distracted. at the roadside bus stop i hopped out to sample various strange foods i had never seen before and enjoyed the whispers of "sao farang", appreciating the feeling that at least today i was on the road again.

:12/05--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

candles for the king



...and explosives


the king's birthday. a lot of silly hullabaloo amongst which i noticed that people are so fanatic about the king that they even pray to him in front of huge lit up shrines. he only makes a speech once a year on this day and i watched him suffer through it with his tired 76-year old bones. his entire speech berated the prime minister (taksin) for being arrogant and corrupt, and he made him lose face in front of the country with his continuous royal sarcasm. now i love him too- i don't mind standing up to show respect to him before films in the theater. :)

sanam luang was crammed with people today so i steered clear and worked most of the day in my room (new project for 'a') to a background of the recorded celebrations on tv (five year old ballerinas dancing to wavery screechy traditional tunes), until i heard eardrum bursting sounds of explosions and went out to explore. the sky was filled with color over sanam luang in the distance, as they let off hundreds of gorgeous fireworks. children were gathered around the sidewalks and hanging off the bridges over the murky canals holding candles, flowers, and incense. everything, the entire street- signs, light poles, bushes, trees, dogs- was covered in strands of white light, and the effect was surreal and beautiful. i headed towards khao san where ot and his friends were, to have a drink. i was sidetracked by groups of boys hunkering over huge smoking rocket launchers in the street. all of a sudden they scattered and the rocket launcher turned into a pillar of thick smoke. there was an out of this world ((BOOM!)) and up shot the hugest, most mindblowing, and f***ing LOUD fireworks i have ever seen. (-of course, the fact that they are illegal in every country including probably this one could be the reason for that). it was quite impressive and i remained transfixed by the deafening displays until the police started to edge closer and closer. before i left i noticed one tattered man with dirty hair hanging his head with a slight, wondering smile and standing just inches from the launch point. when the boys would scatter he would stand dangerously in the midst of the shower of sparks and suffocating white smoke and rub his hands together with glee staring into the chaos. it was strangely touching.
:12/04--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

painting on office wall
i finished my project with 'j' the lawyer today. it was strange this past week working with him. we had established a really good rapport in the beginning and i felt like we could be friends, as i sensed some sort of kinship with him (he's been writing me off and on for a year before this too). unfortunately when i came in on monday this week he put all those thoughts immediately to rest. i admit that the first comp i did of a design for him was fairly hopeless (gotten rusty in the past year)... but he didn't give me credit for the 7 years of experience i have as a web developer and instead dictated to me what he wanted done. he changed his mind daily and and with every change of mind i had to swallow my protests and redesign and recode everything, again. i suppose i probably had a bit of an attitude about it on monday. he came in, barked at me to change it again, threw me his notes, said he wouldn't need me the rest of the week, and hid out in his office the rest of the day without speaking to me. it carried over a bit into today, and when i left tonight having finished it all for him, the feeling was regretfully cold. (i hope, 'j', that you know i have no hard feelings, i think we just miscommunicated when we were both distracted by other things. the site looks great with your ideas we implemented).

back at home, i am trying to be more accepting of ot and not harass him so much to get some sort of work soon, but i am frustrated with my apparent status of "Sugar Mama", and a gullible, stupid one at that, and i have a hard time not taking it out on him. i can easily resort to emotional abuse, of which i am not proud, but at this point that seems to be the only ticket towards a kick in the pants for the boy. he simply seems to have no motivation. any suggestions i might give him for jobs are disregarded as "boring, too conservative, or just not his style". what it boils down to, according to him, is i just don't know how it works in thailand and once you are poor and low you must stay poor and low. it seems that nobody teaches thai people how to find employment. i ran into this before with other thai friends, who are so worried about the hierarchy that exists in their culture that they don't even feel worthy enough to approach a place and ask for possible work. i despise this way of thinking. what a load of crap. if one just gets off his lazy arse and starts knocking on doors, something will become available. but if one instead hangs out with similarly shiftless friends doing various shiftless things, then naught can be expected to come of the situation. i have resolved that other than rent (which is dirt cheap) this boy will not see another baht from me.

:12/03--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

lights to honor the king (from taxi window)
just to see what would happen, i sent out inquiries to several companies listed on the american chamber of commerce site in bangkok, to see if anyone needed web help. today i was flooded with calls and emails from eager potential employers. i am amazed at how healthy the job market is in bangkok in comparison to the stagnant US right now. but person after person told me it is impossible to find flexible and talented thai designers, especially who have some coding ability. one creative media firm wants to interview me next week and promises me a high salary, a year long visa, and a work permit. i don't even dare to hold my breath.

meanwhile i am regretting my move to an internet-free apartment. as it is now, i have to go download whatever i need at the internet cafe, save it to floppy, come home, do my work, burn the finals to cd, head to the internet cafe, download an ftp client, start ftp'ing stuff up to the server, check my email, see that there are changes to be made, sigh with frustration, go back home, make changes, burn cd again, go to internet cafe, check email, more changes, groan dejectedly, go back home to work on changes.... on and on ad infinitum. meanwhile ot doesn't even bother to come home so why i moved here i don't know.


:12/02--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

quentin does it again

ot, determined to show me that he can change his ways, explained to me that he is apprenticing to learn to make silver jewelry from a good friend (mr. goi) during the day. he also cleaned our entire pad, did laundry, gave me a massage, and showed me the 200 baht he earned by playing his guitar on the promenade of thammasat university. i know his determination is likely to be short-lived, but i enjoyed it while it lasted and finished the night off with a filling dinner of noodle soup and some exquisite sex. we fell asleep to my dvd of 'kill bill', whistling the irresistable tune along with the evil blonde nurse in my dreams.

:12/01--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

my new apartment building



my new room
...well the death of my journal lasted not even a month. :) i have resurrected my "blog" in this new look as the rest of my "round the world" trip has been postponed and i can no longer validate my writing as a "travel journal", but between the emails i get from people begging me not to stop writing and my own inability to live without the outlet, i have decided to keep it up after all. i don't care if it is mundane.

so to catch you all up...i have been "volunteering" most of the time for various clients doing freelance web work in bangkok. it's pretty fun to work again, the routine keeps me sane for now. in the morning i go to starbucks (those 200 baht christmas specials are outrageous but damn good! mmm toffee nut lattes!), i eat lunch at the deli in the nearby supermarket (farang food!) or at subway, i taxi or skytrain or express boat myself across the bangkok madness. i feel almost as if i were in NY again. i am sure the novelty will soon wear off, and these projects won't keep up for much longer, but for now it's fun to playact normality.

ot and i have maintained our parasitic relationship,at first mostly from a distance, though it got crazy a couple of times in those first couple of weeks. he would reduce himself to begging me to forgive him and following me and calling me incessantly until i was worried it would turn into a serious stalking situation, and i in turn emotionally abused him to get him away from me (weakness really turns me off). it came to a head one night and he finally made the choice to go back to ko chang and take up his business again. unfortunately, he got to ko chang to find that everything had come crashing down and ko chang as we know it no longer exists. it is now a playground for undercover policemen and PM taksin's fanatical minions, and as they are "cleaning up" the beaches there are no more possibilities for work for those who are not horrifically wealthy. so otto trudged back to bangkok, broke and apologetic. sigh.

thus i know i should not have done it, but knowing that ot has been sleeping at the temple and has used up his reserves of generous friends' couches, i told him i would move from my cozy hotel room into a cheap apartment with him. i am determined to be positive, accept and love him for who he is, hope some things will change, and expect nothing. he in turn has agreed to be less of a leech and to have more respect for me while i am here. so far so good. we now live in banglamphu, in a shady gated building owned by an eccentric, lonely thai woman. she has at least 8 smelly yappy dogs and dozens of twittering tropical birds in cages amongst thick groves of green foliage. unfortunately it smells a bit like dog urine, has only thai tv, cold water, and no phone line for internet, but it is only 4500 baht ($125) a month and i can pay weekly, with no deposit. sold. there are several cheap food stalls outside in our nice neighborly all-thai 'hood. i walk along the canals, stepping over snarling soi dogs and dodging motorbikes, through the fish market to catch my taxi or go to khao san, five minutes away. the landlady makes food to give to the monks early every morning- she stays up all night putting it in little plastic bags to pass out to them. the room itself is quite nice inside actually, and we have a huge double bed which ot typically hogs until i push him over in the middle of the night and curl up on it. the little half-thai half-farang girl next door squeals along with her christmas cartoons and dodges an abusive daddy.

another new life.... i am unsure what is coming next. i could go home or i could stay here in thailand. money versus happiness, which would you choose? maybe i should make money to guarantee future happiness, but i i have some time to relax and decide so that is what i plan to do.

i still have a ticket home on january 6th, at which time i very tentatively plan to join 'x' and find a cheap place from which to work and save like mad. i would ideally like to invest $100,000 and save at least the same- then i can live off the interest wherever i travel and start a business somewhere if i should so desire. much easier said than done though and i am still hesitant to go back to america and deal with americans. meanwhile i will try to spend as little money in bangkok as possible and enjoy possibly the last month i have in thailand.



 

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