Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mambo #7. Not #5.

I am barreling through my allotted drinking occasions and wasting them on lame one-drink nights. Graduation night was no exception. I was getting irritated with family being at my apartment, so I decided to take my sister across the street to the Pub for my last drink before taking off for Southeast Asia. Honestly, I wasn't planning on actually drinking anything, but I promised to buy my sister a drink since I wasn't with her for her birthday to get her the customary free drink.

However, in my state of annoyance and in the spirit of celebration (after all, it was my 25th birthday and I did just graduate with my masters), I decided to grab a drink with her. My choice: Mike's original. Second choice: stealing drinks from my sis' Raspberry Smirnoff.

Surprisingly, out of the entire packed establishment, there were less than a handful of people there that I knew. We sat on the porch and sipped our bottles like it was a typical summer evening with nothing to do. What a fine end to a wonderful 4 years at Western.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Monkeys, Banana Leaves, and Orphans on the Street

The day is almost nigh to fly away for two years. For those who do not know yet, I'm heading to the Philippines tomorrow for a month to visit family I haven't seen since I was eight. After that, I'm flying to Thailand to officially start my teaching career at an international Christian school in Bangkok. They'll only be a few days in between flying in and flying out, but those days are still going to packed pretty heavily despite jet lag. There's a going away party to go to, final packing to take care of, and a wedding 4.5 hours away to attend -- basically three and a half days of saying goodbye to people over and over........and over again. While gone, I'll be missing weddings, important birthdays, and babies' births. I'd definitely call those sacrifices, but really, who can be there for everything?

Land that I barely know. Relatives I only remember by name. Culture that has only reached me in a watered-down version via my mother. Humidity. Please, no humidity. I know it's an impossible plea, but after moving away from Guam forever ago, I really have no need for moisturized air. I'd like to drink water in a cup thank you, and not inhale it through my nose. I'm excited to go, don't get me wrong, but the actuality of my trip won't hit me until I'm actually on the plane and over the Pacific. Even being in airports doesn't give me the rush it used to (maybe because I'm traveling with family and not away from them).

It is a land that shows its vibrant and brash colors in the open but keeps true feelings carefully concealed. Class systems interact on a daily, almost hazardous, basis where even the least amount of American money makes the traveling visitor flashy. I'll be entering the country with a different perspective than most -- I'm not technically from there, my mom is; my connection to family members living there is weak; and I am not familiar with the language they're most apt to use. They all speak English, but would rather not if they can help it. Must be nice actually having a choice as to which language to use. I'll never know. I am a hybrid. A woman caught between two countries, yet feeling like I have to choose one in order to be truly whole.

I am a visitor to my own past. A past involving an exotic land filled with curious creatures and orphan pick-pocketers. All seen through the broken memories of an eight year old. How different will that be from the new eyes of a 25 year old woman?

Monday, June 7, 2010

When windmills float in the sky

They look like this:

It was pretty awesome driving along the gorge dodging raindrops the whole way, passing between sunlight and storm-status clouds. Oddly enough, it was in the sunny patches that the rain found me. There was a river of cloud cover floating over the tops of the hilly mountains along both sides of the Columbia River, hiding the high peaks, and obliterating any hint of the windmills lining the gorge. The clouds, looking more like cotton candy snagged on the trees, than the foggy, watery substance they really were, hung low enough for me to almost touch.

Somewhere between Hood River and Troutdale, I spotted a figure trudging, dejected, along the side of the road. Being 50 degrees and rainy, I pitied him and pulled to a slow stop 100 yards in front of him. I've never picked up hitchhikers before in my life. That's my dad's thing. And not just any hitchhiker; the ones leaving prison. But that's a story for another time. The point being, I wasn't too concerned for my safety and wanted to help a brotha out. He looked like he was in his late twenties-early thirties, and wore an army-green jacket that almost reached his knees. Headed to Tigard? Sure, let's go.

And so off we were on our Tigard adventure. To protect myself, I didn't share personal information (such as where my ultimate destination was, or even my real name), but I did have him sitting right next to me for an hour. Since he had been walking in the rain, I assumed he would smell much like my dog when he goes out in such weather. I prepared for such a contingency by spraying body spray right before he walked up to my car...just in case. However, as it turned out, I didn't need to. He smelled slightly of damp man, but for the most part the guy was as clean-cut as they come. Of course, I had to ask the usual questions: "Are you carrying any weapons?" "Are you a serial killer?" And the ever popular, "Do you intend to rape and kill me?" He looked as though he was almost afraid of me, hesitantly threw his backpack in the back seat, and slipped in beside me. Conversation flowed with me doing most of the talking. He was quiet, but I pried hitchhiking tales out of him eventually. Unfortunately, he was a horrible storyteller, and didn't have anything particularly interesting to share. We got to Tigard with no delays (unless you call the torrential rain we hit up in Portland a delay), and I dropped him off at the 76 Station he pointed out. He thanked me, and walked into the mini mart.
The only thing he got out of me was my name: Isabelle.

I drove away with my dignity and chastity still in tact, minus a smudge or two on my truth chart.

Fail of the evening: I drove past a pan-handler standing in the rain at an off-ramp with a sign reading, "Anything helps. God bless." Unfortunately, I was driving too fast to stop in time to slide some money out to him, so I decided when I passed by him again on my way out, I'd give him some money. Now, you must understand, I never give money out to people on the side of the road. It's not my thing -- I need the money for Dutch Bros after all. But I was feeling strangely generous (helping out a hitchhiker does that to me), and actually had dollar bills in my wallet for a change, so I was prepared to help him. Well I left Wal-Mart twenty minutes later and was ready to get back on the highway, but by the time I reached the ramp I first saw him by, the man wasn't there anymore. I think it was a sign from God that I should keep my money and spend it on something worthwhile. Maybe Yang's for lunch.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pregnancy: a state of body.

"Are you pregnant or something?"

Thus asks the 7th grade twit I worked with yesterday. The worst part was, she wasn't trying trying to be a smart alec -- she was completely sincere in her questioning. But it doesn't stop here, she follows her initial injury with more insults:

"You look pregnant. Or maybe you're just fat. Do you eat too much? Why don't you exercise?"

Despite the tidal wave of words mounting on the tip of my tongue, my simple reply amounted to:
"Oh really? You think I'm pregnant? Well maybe I am, and maybe I'm not."

"Maybe you are, and maybe you're not? Which one is it?"

"The world will never know." I bit my tongue. So much it bled.

Let me tell you about this little monster of a girl who looks more likely to be pregnant than I do: she's short (4'10"-ish), dreadfully obese for a kid her age, and wearing clothes two sizes too small. Now I am never one to comment on a person's weight since it's a a rather sensitive subject for many of us, but this little brat was asking for it. So since I was kind enough to not make her cry in school, I will take the high road and talk about her behind her back. Really now, is there no filter on that mouth of hers? As a matter of fact, I am NOT pregnant, I do work out regularly, and I know I'm still overweight. That's no reason to call someone a lazy, fat, over-eater.
Besides, I can guarantee you that she weighs more than me, eats like a hog (yes, I witnessed this personally), and has probably never ran before in her life.

This is what I get for accepting a classified job.

Mike's Margarita

Drink #6: One -- only one Mike's Hard Margarita.

A friend of mine had his birthday recently. Being the friend that I am, I promised to bring over his drink of choice and celebrate. Understand, I detest beer of any sort, so I was not going to partake in the festivities. I arrived at a near empty house with the only company my friend was keeping was a video game. The only guest was one lone roommate making himself dinner. So with a six-pack of Guinness in hand and looking as stunning as ever, I had prepared myself for a night of sitting on a crummy couch watching a UFC video game.

It was almost 11pm when I convinced the birthday boy to be social, so we headed to the pub. We met a few other ruggers there, and in honor of his special day, I acquiesced to one chick beer (aka: Mike's Hard Margarita). Man was not meant to drink alone, after all. It was a very quiet night, all things considered. And I got pretty for nothing. But it was a good Margarita.