Making my way through Asia (and grad school) one adventurous step at a time.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Adventures in the No Body-Snark Diet...

I've mentioned before that I'm a big fan of Sally over at UnbraveGirl. It might be because she's a super-fun award-winning travel blogger, but I think it's mostly because we've eaten something that looks like this:

Yes, it's a giant stack of bread covered in ice cream and honey
 In a place with decor like this:

Yes, it's a giant yellow dog-man guarding our giant stack of ice-cream bread.
That's not an encounter you'll easily forget. 
In fact, it's how life-long "I'll-read-your-blog-forever" bonds are formed.

Last Thursday, Sally threw down the gauntlet and issued this 2-part challenge. It was a challenge that struck a chord with her readers, set bloggers abuzz, and prompted a gazillion* responses. 
(* Actual numbers used anywhere in this blog are always either approximations or completely made up.)

Sally's 2-part challenge got me thinking about 3 things. (I warned you, numbers around here can be a little sketchy.)

Thing #1: 

I don't usually write about deep-down serious stuff. I don't think I've ever mentioned a reason, but it's  mostly because funny stories will always be funny stories. (Well, funny for you maybe. You're not the one who had ants in their pants.)

However, unlike some types of cheese, my writing about heart swelling feelings'n'such, (cue melodramatic 7th grade diary) or issues of sober importance and solemnity (cue pretentious undergraduate essays), don't get better with age. I cringe when I re-read serious things I've written after days, weeks or years have passed. I cringe because my fiery rhetoric has mellowed, my opinions have matured, or I've realized that my 7th grade heart-throb is actually a bit of a chowder-head.

But once it's out there - in print - it's too late to take it back.

If I wrote about such things here, I'd either have to put genuine thought into them, or else I'd be issuing caveats, apologies and clarifications all. the. time. So, I try to reserve this space for lighthearted musings.

In the days ahead, that might start to change - but not too much, and not too quickly. If that giant stack of ice-cream bread I shared with Sally taught me anything, it's that moderation is key.

Thing #2: 

When Sally issued the challenge to post honest-to-goodness full-body photos, I didn't think I shied away from posting unflattering pictures of myself. (No, I won't provide a link to November 2nd, 2006. It's really that terrible. Honestly.) However, I just went through my entire archive, and realized that in the ten years I've been writing this blog, I've only published one full-on full-length photo of myself...and that was from a costume party in 2005, so I didn't even look like myself. I've always made up some excuse about why the full-on photos never make the cut, but it actually has very little to do with artistic merit, and much more to do with the fact that I don't like the way I look in them.

Thing #3:

This body has stuck with me for a loooong time, even after I uprooted it, and dragged it through 13 countries over the past 14 years. Sure, it gets banged up now and again...

Working on a campus with a great special-ed program and extra wheelchairs available had some perks when I took a spill on the ski hill!
...but that's because it agrees to let me do wonderful things like go skiing, and scuba diving, and rock climbing, and horseback riding, and kayaking, and skydiving. (It doesn't agree to let me sing Karaoke in public, but that's probably a Very Good Thing. Thank you, body.)

It even lets me enter the Run for Relief every year. Why have you never seen me mention the Run for Relief on my blog? Primarily because the plight of displaced people in Burma is a serious issue (see Thing #1). Secondly, even though I spend the entire race thinking about, and praying for, people in Burma who are forced to run for their very lives, as soon as I see post-run pictures, I immediately focus on how much weight I've lost (or gained) since the previous year (see Thing #2).  

So, to participate in Unbrave Girl's very brave No Body-Snark Diet challenge, I will:

1. Stop being a jerk to myself, and quit referring to my participation in the Run for Relief as my Waddle for Relief.

2. Post a full-on picture of myself finishing the race:

Sure, I'm disappointed that I was slower than the year before, and walked a little more than I ran...but that's not the point. It was never the point.

As I've been writing this post, a funny thing has happened. As I've taken a moment to focus on all the great things my body lets me do, I want to take better care of it. I don't want to chastise it for picking up a few pounds over the years, and shame it into shedding them. Instead, I want to reward it with tons of vegetables and healthy things. Why? Because it's an aging machine that's faithfully allowed me to do things I love for a bazillion years. I don't want to force it to be smaller so I can fit into skinny jeans, I want to keep it healthy so it will let me keep on adventuring. 

But if Unbrave Girl ever comes back to town, I'd totally share another giant stack of ice-cream bread with her.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Adventures in Trouble Raining Down...

The other day was a bit hectic, and included fighting with Jason Bateman (in my dream), flooding my kitchen (in real life), baking an entire batch of cookies for the ants (in error), and gardening with the help of my ancient neighbour and his cane (wielded like a sword).

You may be asking yourself, "Why didn't I read about this? Why wasn't such a day recorded for posterity on this blog that I sometimes read when I have absolutely nothing else to do with my time?" Dear reader, I have no excuse. It just didn't seem news worthy.

However, since it's been so long since I've written, and you've been so patient, I'll tell you all about today's adventures. I'm pretty sure it's going to sound like I had a terrible, awful, dreadful day. I really didn't. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good...but today, the rains came...and when the rains come, they bring trouble.

I came home this afternoon to find water dripping out of a leak in my ceiling, an overturned lamp, a shattered light bulb and a completely complacent cat curled up on the sofa, blissfully unaware of the shambles around her. For a feline, she is remarkably un-curious. Not only will curiosity never kill this cat, it won't even give her so much as a hangnail.

I have no interest in the world around me.

Eventually, buckets were put in place, landladies were alerted, broken glass was swept away...then the bugs came. Every year, the first heavy rain of the season awakens the flying termites, who noisily swarm the nearest lights. Last year, I still had my mosquito net up, so took refuge under it and waited for the maelstrom to pass.

This year, I wasn't so lucky. Not only was I exposed to the onslaught of fluttery bugs, the floor fan in my room was sucking them in, mashing them up, and blowing an oscillating stream of wings and bug-bodies all over my room. I had high hopes that the cat would at least take care of some of them...but no. Even after one bug flew directly into her face...twice...she looked at me like it was my fault, then sauntered away, completely ignoring the fluttery mayhem around her. 

I needn't have worried about the mess the bugs made. Even as they were falling to the ground, the ants were marching to collect their fallen bodies and cart them off to who-knows-where. (Honestly, I don't know where...if I did, I'd do something about it.) Now, the only evidence of the bugs is a few scattered wings on the floor, and all is quiet. But the rain has started again...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Adventures in a Body of Lies...

Nope, I'm not talking about the movie Body of Lies that's full of A-list actors. I'm talking the actual body of a B-list blogger. 

Last week, I had one of those days where I managed to actually find my way to the gym. As I was stretching out after the workout, (actually, I was laying flat on my back wondering if the sweat pooling under me would leave a crime-scene style outline on the floor when I stood up), I overheard a trainer offer this advice to someone:

Just Listen To Your Body.

We've all heard this advice at one point or another, and unaccountably, people seem to think it's good advice. Either everyone is in denial, or I happen to be living in a defective body model. Why? Because my body lies to me. All. The. Time.

After all, it was the mouth in this body that told me a 2nd slice of pie would be a really good idea, and that a bowl of ice cream makes a great breakfast. It was listening to this body that landed me at the gym in the first place...and that same body shouts at me when I exercise.

It's not just about food and fitness. My other body parts lie to me too.

It was my legs, back in the '80s that said, "I wanna run free - neon orange Hammer Pants are the pants for me!" In fact, most of my appendages have been lying to me about fashion  for decades.

What? My body told me this was a great beach look!

Sometimes, my body parts even collaborate and come up with tag-team lies. This morning, my nose and my brain got together and created an elaborate falsehood.

Two hours before my alarm went off, my nose woke me up by smelling something odd. "Wake up! Something's burning!" it said to me. My nose then tagged out, and my brain jumped in the ring. "Yes! Wake up! Keebler Elves are burning flour in your kitchen. The cookies will be ruined!"


Thanks to my body's lies, I was fully awake before realizing that there was no Keebler cookie emergency. There were no cookies involved at all. It was just a bad pollution day here in Chiang Mai, and the only thing burning were farmer's fields, 30km away.

Next time someone tells me to Listen to my Body, I'm pretty sure my right foot is going to tell me to kick a nearby shin. Unfortunately, the way my body communicates, it will likely tell me to kick my own shin. And I'll listen to it.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Adventures in New Kids on the Block...

No, I'm not having '90s boy-band flashbacks. Sorry to disappoint those of you who still insist that Donnie was waaaaay dreamier than Danny. I know who you are, and I know you were looking forward to reviving a rousing debate on the subject. It's not going to happen on this blog. Not now. Not ever.

Okay, fine. You can decide who's dreamier. I don't care.

While I was doing some research on exciting things in the world of writing, I checked to see where this l'il ol' blog pops up in search engines...and discovered TWO other blogs that share my title, "Adventures in My Shoes." Both of them have only been around for a year or so - and obviously their authors were blissfully unaware of this aging behemoth slumbering in the cavernous bowels of the internet. I don't blame them - half the time even I forget it's here.

Still, it came as a shock to discover that my shoes are no longer the only ones having adventures. It also made me take stock and realize that I don't even really wear shoes anymore. Since moving to Thailand, I've traded in my cupboards full of fancy footwear for a few unassuming pairs of flip flops.

"And to think, I coulda been a Jimmy Choo..."

And yes, I did just go outside, line up all my flip-flops and tell them to say "Cheese!" I think the impish little pair in the back may have said "Toe Jam" instead, but I let it slide, especially since my neighbours were already beginning to look alarmed.

Now, back to the question of the New Kids on the Block - Jordan was definitely the cutest. No, wait, the other new kids on the block. The ones who really are having adventures and wearing shoes. And they probably have real shoes, and real adventures.

One of them can't spell International Border properly. (Unless she actually trod upon  a tenant or surfer when she said she walked across an international boarder.) Whatever the truth of that statement is, I suspect she was wearing actual shoes at the time.

The other is telling the world she's pregnant, which is certainly an adventure, although misogynist folklore tells me that shoes in her case are optional.

I assume that in spite of their poor diction and pictures of baby bumps, they're probably very nice women. They might even have interesting things to say. (Unlike someone I know who's still rambling about boy bands...)

The Canadian in me wants to welcome them to the neighbourhood and offer them some poutine. On the other hand, the crotchety old woman in me (who is old enough to remember too many of the words to Hangin' Tough) wants to wave my fist in the air and shout, "Get off my lawn!"

Maybe I should change the name of my blog to more accurately reflect my reality. Or, I could lace up my one remaining pair of real shoes and go have an adventure. (Who am I kidding. We both know that I'm going to post this and then go watch NKOTB videos on my bare feet.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Adventures in Icky Yuckies, and Reader Participation.

Alright, my long-suffering readers. It's time for you to have your say! Here's how this works:

I'll list, in order, my experience from the other night. You choose which line you think is most shudder/scream/Eeek! worthy. Okay? What's worse...

1) A giant cockroach landing on the wall nearby.

2) Foul smell of extra-strength bug killing spray filling your living room (preventing you from wanting to eat the snack you were looking forward to)

3) An angry, sprayed cockroach flying around dive-bombing your head for 10 minutes.

4) A dying cockroach twitching under your desk for a few minutes.

5) The definitely dead cockroach completely disappearing while you slept. (Because it's impossible to cope with dead bugs when it's dark outside, waiting 'til morning is best. But how does a giant dead cockroach vanish in less than 4 hours!!??)

So, 1-5, what do you think is the worst?

(The good news is that this is the first cockroach I've seen in a very long time!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Adventures in DMV Days...

Riding my motorbike the other day, I came around a bend, prepared to make a left turn. At the same time, a handsome man was driving his motorbike towards me. Our eyes met, and I flashed him my winningest smile. He smiled back. We slowly eased our bikes around each other with a smooth, graceful dance-like harmony, and went our separate ways. It was like something straight out of an old film.

"Hey there, sailor. Drive here often?"

Oh, wait...did you think this was the beginning of a road-romance? Sorry, let me fill in a few more details:

Riding my motorbike the other day, I came around a bend [making an illegal U-turn], prepared to make a left turn [in the wrong direction down a one-way street]. At the same time, a handsome man [wearing a traffic-cop uniform] was driving his motorbike towards me. Our eyes met, and I flashed him my winningest smile. He smiled back. We slowly eased our bikes around each other with a smooth, graceful dance-like harmony, and went our separate ways. There. That's more accurate.

To be fair, (and to put my parents' minds at ease), there was construction nearby making all traffic a bit of a mess, and my normal, legal route home was blocked. I don't usually drive so haphazardly. Nonetheless, the encounter did make me think that now, after two years of 'practice', it was probably time for me to actually get my license.

After spending 7 and a half hours at the DMV yesterday, I was almost regretting that decision. Since my driver's license is all written in Korean, I couldn't simply exchange it for a Thai one, write a 15 minute multiple choice test, take a 2 minute drive around a closed course, and merrily head home with a legal license. Instead, I had to take a 4 hour road safety course...all in Thai. I dozed through some of it, but when I did listen, all I understood was, " ....... left turn..... motorcycle..... maybe .... car... 10 minutes... train."

After the 4 hours, and a 1/2 hour lunch break, the next 3 hours were spent waiting for and taking the written test. 3 times. I took it once for the car and failed, then I took the same test immediately again for the motorbike and passed, then I had to wait 30 minutes before I could take the same test once again for the car. The test was theoretically in English, but that didn't mean that the words tossed together made much sense!

While waiting for my 3rd round of 'decipher the question', I took the practical component for my motorbike. I drove around a closed course, and the official may or may not have looked up from his desk while I did so, to make sure I hadn't fallen off, or careened into a bush.

Next, I went to get my licenses printed. They printed both a motorbike license, and a car license, but won't give me the car one until I've borrowed a friend's car and taken the road test. The photographer took my picture 5 times, until she was satisfied that I was smiling, and looked pretty enough to have my face plastered on a permanent ID. That was nice of her. I wish she also worked at the place that does passport photos.

In the end, even after a full day at the DMV, I'm still no closer to understanding Thai driving rules. The only think I learned for certain is that it's illegal to park by a black & white striped curb, like this one:
Motorbikes (including mine) illegally parked at the DMV. 
I'm sure the drivers of the bikes above can be forgiven, since none of us actually had a license when we drove here and parked. Now that we know better, I'm sure we'll never ever park illegally again.

Now, if the handsome traffic cop ever pulls me over, at least I'll be wearing my prettiest smile on my new license.