Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Making space

This morning's walk was bright with the scent of mango season and plumeria blossoms, but I'm making space in my heart for sagebrush and fresh cut grass. We're heading stateside. Watch Instagram for image updates, and in August I'll return to both Singapore and blogging with a fresh supply of good coffee beans, flip flops, and Micron pens. Happy summer from One Green Bee!

Monday, 18 May 2015

Religious experiences

It's a question asking kind of time.

First, the five year old is having a spiritual and scientific crisis. We've been reassuring (and talking completely out of our backsides) curious Oscar that Santa can defy the laws of physics. "Why?" Well, Santa was made special. "I am special too," he declares and tries to walk through a wall. Head bruises and confusion later, there are more questions. "Is the tooth fairy a winged princess or a tiny man elf?" "Why can you not cut water?" If he tries very hard can he "take a nap in fire?" If he jumps with his eyes closed, "will the landing not hurt?"

Possibly from the walking-through-wall attempts, he appears to share my middle-memory loss and cannot recall the word Bible. "Let's read one more story in that book...what's that know that one book with all the stories...the book about that one guy Jesus and that other guy the Good Samurai?" Yes, I do happen to know that book.  And I think it's The Good Samaritan. Almost nightly, I hold up his children's version and ask if that's the one he's talking about, and he's always totally incredulous, "Yes! How did you know?"

I've been asking my own incredulous questions at a mystical place in Singapore: Haw Par Villa. It was started by the Tiger Balm brothers, Aw Boon HAW and Aw Boon PAR (imagine that), and it is a wonder devoted to Chinese folklore, mythology, and Confucianism. My comrades in tourist crime and I had quite the time marveling at things like this:

And this:

All I have to say about every photo I have is, "what the heck is happening here?" Of course, you might ask yourself that about this quiet moment I took pondering the magic with an alarmingly unwooly ram:

As one of the exhibits is titled the "Ten Tortures of Hell", I cannot with good sense post the rest of the photos, but you might do some Google Imaging and then make some time for a surreal walk-through. (leave the children at home)

Thus, this morning, post-Haw Par Villa-ing with questions, spirituality, and sightseeing on my mind, I listened to soul-filling inspiration and doodled a beloved site that is equally boggling but far more comforting. It sounds very expat posh/stupid/nauseating/embarrassing to say, "Angkor Wat is just one of our most favorite places!" But the truth is, it is. I'm cringing too, but we have big hearts for Siem Reap and for the clarity and serenity we've found temple touring and teaching there. So, I'm drawing a tremendous place and people love letters:

And then I'll gear up for what will be asked later about leprechauns, the Easter Bunny, and elves.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Fish out of water

We are swimming. Swimming hard upstream against the current that is the last three badly behaved weeks of school when colleagues lose their kindly edges and students think about college and summers and change and fray their rational edges, and the temperature in this country sky rockets to places that leave us all with heat rashes around our literal edges. It is a Desitin applying, staring-into-space-after-work, repetitive-activity-so-time-passes, not-wanting-to-do-much kind of time.

And I can't have wine.

Someday, I will write a coffee table book that no one will buy about medical experiences in foreign countries. It will include the Czech doctor that ate his ham sandwich lunch in front of me while I sat naked from the waist down on an office chair. It will also include my April visit to the neurologist for some memory issues where he couldn't remember how to administer the memory test, and so I read both the test and the answers out loud for us (at his request), thus nullifying my results and confirming my waste of money. Later he hooked me up to a machine that checks for carpel tunnel, ("but my wrists don't hurt. That's not why I'm here!") cranked it up as high as it would go, and then realized it wasn't on. When he flipped the switch, I received an electric shock that is worth pantomiming at summer BBQs.

Right now, I'm on medications for really boring low-immune-system-needs-a-break kind of things, and they mean I can't have wine. They also mean strange doctor visits where awkward things happen. It is one of the ways we are expat fish out of water sometimes, people with norms we don't even know (like paper gowns for the pantless) are our normal and not everyone else's.

Wineless and weary, I doodle. I stare. I re-read Oscar the same books, and we wait for these three weeks to go away so we can fly across the pond to home waters. Of course, there we will mess up and use the word "lift" for elevator and wrinkle our noses at what passes for rice, and turn all shades of pink when Oscar reveals his otherness at a picnic and marvels at mysterious foods like caramel corn and tater tots. I guess we are fish out of water just about everywhere these days, but there is something about that feeling of not quite fitting in that is becoming the very norm we need to thrive.

Swim on!