Saturday, December 14, 2013

Friday Five: Soul Crushing Hopelessness

You know the feeling. You're in a situation that you have absolutely no control over. Bad and/or annoying things are happening to you, and it's impossible, for one reason or another, to alter your current or future state. You are subject to these happenings without pity or mercy. Ruthlessly, your mettle is tested, your patience worn far beyond thin. These are the things that agonizingly chip away at my soul, making me feel utterly powerless, just as Prometheus' liver was eaten by an eagle and then restored the next day for further consumption and torture.

1. That bug that won't stop flying around your face and ears. I literally have nothing it wants. I can't bargain with it. I can't plead with it. I can't even kill it, as if I swat at it, the friction of my hand passing through air only serves to push it away, making me look crazy to outsiders and delaying any further buzzing in the ear and hovering just inside my field of vision. How completely you defeat my desire to live.

2. Those Thai kids yammering on during an English lesson. I can't ask them to stop talking in Thai, because I'm "only supposed to use English." I certainly am not going to yell, whistle, or clap to get their attention, as it's unprofessional. I'd wave my arms wildly, I guess, but they generally aren't looking at me. If they were, I'd already have their attention and wouldn't be having the problem in the first place. Every fiber of my being burns, but this raring fire is seen and felt by no one.

3. Those Thai men who ogle Nadia. There is absolutely no shame in their game. Mouths agape, eyes wide open- they begin at her face and move south and back north again. Perhaps they give a chuckle or a nudge to their equally buffoonish friend. Their creepiness knows no bounds. Their dehumanizing actions obviously apparent. But what am I to do? I can't talk sense to them, and absolutely can't/wouldn't make a big scene about it. Anger boils inside of me, and all I can offer is a smirk.

4. That Thai-m. I'm often held at the whim of a mad-(wo)man who conceptualizes time in a completely different way than I, so different in fact, I would regard them as "crazy." A 4:00 pm get-together becomes 5:30 unannounced. The meeting on Monday is cancelled because it is raining and never rescheduled. An expected ten minute walk actually ends forty-five minutes and four kilometers later. A hapless sigh is all I can muster, and I trudge back my time-ordered hole from whence I came- where things happen on schedule and as expected.

5. That culture that has no concept of physical space and how locomotion works. I walk through the market and encounter twenty people trying to walk through the same one foot gap at the same fucking time. Please, just figure it out. It's not difficult. Sometimes, you walk on the sidewalk and are approached by an oncoming individual. You'd think walking rules would follow driving rules in kind, right? Thailand drives on the left side of the road. Do they walk there? No. Do they walk on the right? No. Where do they walk, then? Most commonly, right where you need to be. When riding my bike, people a) dart out in front me on foot, b) dart out in front of me on motorbikes, and c) dart out in front of me in cars. I've saved countless lives by understanding simple notions of space, movement, and how to make predictions based on the aforementioned physics, and thusly did not crash into these people, causing mortal wounds. My knuckles whiten, my face reddens. I just offer a kind "kor tote krap," because when I'm the one taking drastic actions to avoid a collision, I'm the one who looks like an asshole. Wonderful. 


  1. You have to get here, to this crazy frustrating part of your service to get to the good stuff next. Congrats! You're normal and well on your way to second year.

  2. I second what Julia says. In Saint Lucia, in the Caribbean, they called it 'island time'. One excellent benefit for me was that in my US life, I was always running a minute or two late and my New Year's resolution annually was to be on time. In Saint Lucia, I was ALWAYS early! I found that I really had to let go of right/wrong judgements and just go with the flow. Turned out I became a much more relaxed persona and there was always someone to chat & laugh with, something to observe, or just time for quiet meditation in the interval. Keep writing and sharing - I LOVE your writing style!

  3. Diane, thank you for the kind comments! I'm very happy to have such a wide audience- family and friends who aren't PCVs, future PCVs, and even returned PCVs! How exciting :)