Sea Section

June 30, 2014

I just took a video meant to illustrate what a cacophonous environment in which these kids are learning. I’m in a tenth grade economics class and if it were mine, I’d be standing with both arms curved outward but hands clenched in fists by hips, audibly growling at the atonal surround sound symphony.

Boy, do people work hard for education here. There’s a loudspeaker outside, where someone’s presumably herding a PE class, and since the rooms are necessarily open-humidity with airy windows that let in Bacolod’s battle of birds vs. business- yes, the auditory distraction is significant.

Adding to that is the visual. Stephany and I are perched on desks in the back, and while most students try to glance at us surreptitiously, the flirty kid keeps staring openly between winks and the gentle brushing of his neighbor’s arm. I kind of want to wink back at him but prefer to avoid international incidents and stay firmly out of jail.

Both students and teachers here are en pointe with their adherence to the focal Filipino tenets of warmth and generosity. The bonus today, though, is that we got to hang out with tiny people. Our day began with the flag ceremony, where we stood in front of 800 or so students as they sang, recited the pledge, and welcomed us with aplomb. Connie mentioned that the US and Philippines are the only two countries to recite the pledge, and that’s something I’m determined to look up once the Internet becomes a thing for me again. The ceremony was sweet, though. I do enjoy all the cross-cultural signs of “hey, we’re all human”… which in this case appeared a sing-a-long played and as first graders flailed enthusiastically while the older ones gestured ironically, eyes a-roll.

The best part, though (oh my lord, I’ve inhaled the Filipino teen-quivalent of Axe body spray and all my rejection parts are laboring) was the pledge of non-violence that students uniformly recited. They vowed to be peaceful, play creatively, and respect nature- among other important principles- and I must say that I like the hell out of those ideas. If we’re going to force a dictate down people’s throats, that creed should be the one.

A little tour came next, the highlight of which was the fun fact that papaya, apparently, retards male… feelings. Did I mention that this is a Catholic school? The seminary students allegedly eat just mountains of papaya, presumably avoiding oysters and #5 soup.

Oh, PS: I had pig’s blood and mango ice cream for breakfast:

IMG_0256

Another entertaining part of the tour was my habitual (nun joke) thumbing through of library books to see if any used to be mine. This is not a wealthy country, by any means, and a significant number of books and textbooks are old ones donated by the so-called first world. I like to check the in-cover stamps to see their origins, but thus far haven’t come closer than Virginia, 1987.

SIDE NOTE! Flirty kid just told me I look like Hazel Grace’s mother in The Fault in Our Stars, which I’m taking as a giant compliment – and preening, naturally- even though for all I know the part is played by a leprosy-addled gorilla. Good book, that.

Speaking of feeling loved, we can chalk up the pre-school/kindergarten visit as a raging success, too. I was late to the party as I was having a panic attack in the bathroom, once I realized it was a typical Filipino version (see here). I sorted myself out by fleeing, and ran smack into a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds who wanted to touch me and play. One of them skidded to a stop in front of me and I watched as his eyes grew wide.

“Are you from Hollywood?” he asked breathlessly.

I giggled. “No, I’m from Maine.”

“What?”

“The United States.”

“What?”

“Somewhere else.”

“Ohhhhhhhhh. Your eyes are silver.”

And with that, I floated into the nearest classroom, forgetting that my hair resembled a matted street lion’s. Because if kindergarteners think you’re special, then dammit, you are.

Boom. Bombardment of preschoolers. Giantest smacked kiss on my face with the best, tightest hug after a Himalayan climb into my lap. Selfie Central, 2014.

IMG_0258

We left, and I was feeling pretty good… much better than Geri, the Nursing Skills Manikin. Geri’s used in the school’s VocTech RN training program, and she’s awesome.

IMG_0263

Eventually the school day ended and we went out to celebrate Donah’s birthday at a fish market. After pointing out exactly which fresh seafood we wanted delivered cooked to our party, we had a table full of lobsters, crabs, shrimps, soup, blue marlin, and assorted drinks for 13 people and hell if we didn’t eat like death row gangsters. There were literal bags full of leftovers and it still only cost us like 60 American dollars.

By far the best day I’ve had in the Philippines. Killing it, nailing it, done.

IMG_0280

Advertisements

Ed McMahon? Really?

Saturday, June 28

So I was surrounded by growing cocks for a good portion of this afternoon.  How’s that for an opening?

The mountains of Bacolod, as it turns out, are breeding grounds for hundred dollar chickens, the ones that rich people own in order to support their cockfighting habits.  We drove through them today on the way to King Kong PhotoOp World.  That’s where the totally literally true first sentence comes from.  So it’s actually completely appropriate, right, Mom?

As a matter of fact, it’s actually much more appropriate than the genus/species jokes we were cracking in the car after I asked what those tall, spindly trees were, and Amanda answered with, “oh, I believe those are known as “philippinus treeus.”

Repeat that a couple of times to yourself and get in my mind frame.  Then picture me giggling, drawing out the last two syllables of the first word slowly, and creating a bonding moment- based on wild immaturity- in the car.  

Yes, so.  We’re in Bacolod now!

I couldn’t write yesterday because I was drowning in the tidal tired that swept across me after a 12-hour day visiting two more schools: Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino High School and Makati Science High, both in metro Manila.

May I interject, please, with a plea that American chorale chiefs corral their US students in the Filipino fashion?  At St. Paul’s, the singing brought the trip’s first tears to the eye, and I sort of assumed they were this nationally recognized troupe of girls who were handpicked at birth and raised on diaphragm-specific steroids and soprano powders for the express purpose of entertaining various visiting dignitaries.  I did a mental Wayne’s World bow at their director, and left in awe.

But then at both Aquino and Makati Science, we experienced the same thing.  Just beautiful, soaring voices from kids who looked like they lived purely to harmonize with an energy that could power the world.  It’s what the word “awesome” was invented for.  And when Aquino did the Mariah Carey tune with the “do-do-DOO (ow)… do-do-do-do-DO-do- (dow)” I went into a dissociative state of absolute pleasure.  Filipino high school choir directors are TalentMongers, Incorporated.  And a nice touch at Makati was when the singers presented each of us with a single rose, Miss Kay style- thought of you, Ken!- at their song’s conclusion.

Anyway, the schools themselves were interesting, although my favorite, of course, is always meeting students.  In all schools, they were incredibly warm and welcoming, and in each class into which we popped our sweaty American faces, the students interrupted their lesson, turned gracefully toward us, and chanted in unison, “good morning, vee-see-tors.  Mabuhay!”  It should have seemed robotic but the culture is so genuine that it was heartwarming instead.  Further inspiring was the fact that 40-50 kids were packed into a classroom easily the same size as mine, but without the benefit of moderate temperatures and a sound barrier to keep out Manila’s maniacal motor traffic.  And if the teacher was sick?  No problem.  The dozens would complete their seat work both teacher and ruckus free.  

I had a bit of a rough time of it, because the majority of my students just don’t have that kind of self-possession and motivation, and is it my fault?  People tend to blame a lack of resources on lack of student achievement back home, and there’s certainly data to support that socio-economic status is directly correlated to academic success in the United States.  Why, though?  Both high schools in Manila were surrounded on all sides with makeshift houses, with corrugated roofs held steady with tires, detritus, debris.  Stray dogs slept in cardboard lean-tos and children played barefoot basketball in the streets.  

It’s a culture, and it’s a specifically cultivated culture.  When I mentioned to a girl who’d kindly come to sit with me because she worried that I was lonely- I was all by myself in a  row in the conference room because it was freezing and I only dared go as far from the A/C as one seat behind the current farthest colleague- that everyone had been so generous, she smiled gently and said, “that is how we are.  We just want to welcome you here; we are a community and this is our culture.”  And it’s true; they understand and value that integral to a community are education and open arms.

I just love that.  I love that she’s so aware that her culture is so, I love her investment in it, and I love that that’s all I’ve seen across both Manila and Bacolod.  Regardless of circumstance, people value each other, and they work together and they hope.  

Hooookay, sappy time’s over.  Did you know that teachers have to take a neuropsychological test to teach at Makati Science?  Yep, it’s a really good school.  Also- to revert back to adolescent mode- teachers are all evaluated on what’s called a Performance Management System… or PMS.  Haha!

Probably I would not pass that test.

Anyway, I fell into bed last night without recording all of the above because I was booooone tired, and quite frankly was more interested in reading Bridget Jones’s new book, which I almost didn’t buy because I wanted to look smart in front of the State Department people, but which I’m glad I did because I enjoy laughing hysterically by myself.  This morning, though, we checked out of the Shangri-La and four of us headed to our next assignment: Bacolod.

Bacolod City is but a mere island-hop away, and it’s home to Donah, our intimidatingly smart and beautiful host teacher.  I am easily twice her size, as evidenced by this picture we took at the baptismal family meal we attended as our first item of business here.  Duly note: I ate pig intestines over rice and they were fine.  

The journey to Bacolod was fairly uneventful except for the funeral procession we saw as we were heading to the Manila airport, Ninoy Aquino International.  (Motto below.)

At funeral processions, you’re supposed to throw coins so nobody follows, although whether that means “follows the body to the grave” or “follows the walking parade nosily to the burial” sort of escaped me.  This was because I was fascinated by the mourners, who passed slowly while “How do I live without you?” played ironically in the cab’s radio.  And then Donah told me of some other Filipino traditions, like the one that says that if you sing in the kitchen, you’ll marry an old man.  For some reason Ed McMahon springs to mind (and hasn’t he already had his procession?) which is worrisome in that I’d rather have Pat Sajak and I sing in the kitchen A LOT.

I just reread this whole thing and have concluded that I’m losing my mind.  It’s time to end this.  I was going to talk about the chickens more, but

Oh!

Fitting conclusion: it appears that I’m cockblocking myself. 

Why Couldn’t the Chicken Cross the Road?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Now that I’ve relaxed sufficiently into my martini and popcorn and while the string quartet is on a break from its tasteful selection of Broadway/Sia tunes, let’s take a trip together down memory lane, to that time 20 minutes ago when I recorded a screaming cat fight, narrowly avoided arrest by the assault rifle-bearing policemen standing in the road, and then strode under said avenue with my Japanese linguist friend.  

Though I chose my words carefully there for dramatic effect, all of that did in fact just happen.  I love that I have some free time tonight!   

The day was chock full of busy again, and again I ate for the first four and a half hours of it while learning about country’s educational system.  How Filipinos can even drag themselves to school, by the way, is beyond me, as I’d be 900 pounds and sweating lumpia juice if I lived here.  

Regardless of my body’s inclination to lie comatose in a bath of adobo, my brain is still working and it’s finding it to be difficult to be okay- even more so after today- with mid-Millennium Spaniards.  Come to find out, when they colonized the Philippines in the 1500s, they declared all Filipino books to be the writings of evil spirits and chucked them in the fire, thus ridding an entire nation of its ancestral legacy.  Assholes.  I already have sympathy smallpox from teaching about the complete destruction of the Aztec and Inca civilizations, where the conquistadors (please don’t think I’m condemning every single Spanish person alive then, mind you) basically raped, murdered, and spread disease through the lot.  And then set up harems and slave trade.  This is not to condone the Aztec practice of, for example, having multi-day heart-ripping-out ceremonies or to revere the Incan practice of, for example, tethering starving alpacas to freezing Andes summits in order that their cries prompt the gods to make rain, but still.  Don’t burn books, you pre-Nazi Nazis.  

I keep looking for further detail into the Philippine colonization, but the Internet is being frustratingly USA Today-y and all I can find are vague, glossed-over paragraphs.  There was probably smallpox here, too, and there definitely was enslavement (and eventual mass murder) of Chinese workers, but it’s tough to find more detail without a library.  Since this is a blog and not a history book, I’ll cease and desist.  If you ever get your hands on a time machine, though, and can travel back to Magellan’s era, give those bastards a good, stern talking-to.  

Right, education system.

During the Spanish occupation, schools muddled along teaching life skills to boys and housekeeping to girls (could arguably be the same thing but I’m trying to subtly- well, I guess not anymore- point out the sexism) and that went on for like 300 years.  The Americans blasted in in 1898 and introduced English as the primary language of instruction, but then Japan’s imperialistic tendencies took over pre-WWII and knocked schools right back into being a Nihongo propaganda machine.  It was regimented and totalitarianism and bunk.  

Seems like they’ve recovered pretty well now, though.  

We got to visit one of the schools today, and it was pretty spectacular.  Though the national system is going through some significant change- until recently, Filipino kids would graduate from high school at the same age as our American 10th graders- the students we met today were unbelievable.  It was a Catholic girls’ school with a few thousand students

(side note: which is guarded by a statue of Mary who apparently has a potato gun arm for defense purposes, which I made up but which is hilarious)

Image

and when we toured classrooms and extracurriculars (and were treated to a concert and dance performance even though they only started the school year two weeks ago) we saw some definite thriving.  Apparently this school got the idea that it was cheating their girls to hold arts and athletic clubs with just any old faculty member who had the time or inclination to coach, so if they didn’t have them on staff already, they brought in experts in each area and started a Gift program.  The idea is, all kids have gifts, whether it be music, performing arts, creative writing, athletics, whatever.  So it’s the school’s job to let kids explore those areas in elementary and middle school so they can find their gifts and interests, and receive expert instruction in honing them.  By high school, they specialize and get really good.

Image

I love this program.  The nuns reported that since they’ve started it, kids have succeeded academically and are more likely to come to school each day, plus their dedication to their disciplines make for successful interscholastic competition.  It’s great stuff.  

Could’ve done without the standstill Manila traffic on the way home, though.  

Anyway, I sort of wanted to drape myself gracefully over the nearest cushion when I got back, but I arrived to an Internet pep talk from Chrissy that excited me enough to venture to the Peninsula for a meal and a proper drink.  

As it turns out, “across the street” is not as easy as it sounds.  When I finally found the hotel that I could easily see from my window, I looked for a crosswalk to safely navigate the eight lanes (which magically appears to be 17 lanes if your eyeballs hail from Manila) of Jeepneys and terror.  

Nope.

Fine.  There was a cacophony of plaintive screeching behind me anyway, so I went to investigate.  

Catfight.  I put the video on facebook.  UPDATE: No, I didn’t.  It didn’t work.  But it was weird.

Weirder, I didn’t know how to cross the road and was contemplating a dash until a nice man stopped to laugh at the cats with me.  I asked him.

“Oh, I will tell how to not do that,” he lilted with considerable charm.  

“You do not go across the street because I did.  I got the policeman to hold me and arrest me last night; he demanded one thousand pesos.  The road is not allowed.  Do not go.”

Since the policemen here look like guerrilla warriors (though they’ve been really friendly with their smiles of angels and their guns of steel) I decided not to risk it.  My new friend- who turned out to be a kind, nerdy linguist from Nagoya- and I decided to walk into the inexplicable, signless hole in the ground and see what met us.  

Oooh, a tunnel to the other side!  I’ll bet the joke chicken made it so he could cross without squash.

Success, and dinner, and martini, and sleep.

I’ve gotten to the other side.

Image

As I Reflect- Oddly- Upon Augusta North Baseball

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Back in the day when tween baseball was the be-all and end-all of Augusta community sports, Coach Lippert was trucking the team around and had to stop at a burger joint.  I believe the story has them somewhere stressful like Baltimore, where venturing near Camden Yards can be a spastic game of Frogger, honking, and- if you’re trying to be a coach and a role model- precariously filtered rage swearing.  Little BL, all puffed up with importance from getting to ride with the older, Little League superstars, ordered a hamburger that came back with cheese.

He whimpered and whined.  Coach Lip took a deep breath.  

“Unnnnhhhhh,” moaned BL, stretching the Kraft-Americaned bun slowly from the patty before slumping back in defeat, “this has cheeeeeeeeese in it.  I don’t want cheeeeeeeeeeeese.”

This was 100% the last straw for the older Lip.  He turned from the driver’s seat, fixed his cold eyes past two rows of rightfully terrified children on his son, and just bellowed.

“Eat the cheese,” he roared, “and HURT SOMEONE!”

Okay, so I took total poetic license with that story because it was 25ish years ago and I wasn’t actually there.  “Eat the cheese and hurt someone” is a great line, though, and I’ll never forget it.  I feel like it has all this symbolic meaning.  Like, it’s simultaneously “stop whining, dummy” and “seriously, if you do what you’re supposed to do, you’re going to be a total badass… so just shut up and do it,” and then, “you might not like it but honestly, it’s fine.”

“Eat the cheese and hurt someone” has been my motto thus far this trip.

Let’s start with the journey itself.

I’m usually really good at planes.  I travel enough that I actually have a routine and trade secrets, and I was duly prepared with five books, a neck pillow, and Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits for the 40 hours it took to get me here.  I had booked myself into the exit row so there’d be enough leg room to do downward facing dog, if I wished, and I had preloaded my laptop with tame movies like “The Great Muppet Caper” and “Catching Fire” so I wouldn’t have to watch Daenarys Targarian get naked with her brother while a child peeped behind me.  See?  Guilt free.

I neglected to remember, however, that these seats would also mean that there’d be nothing to either side of my head, so I’d have to attempt sleep with my neck between my knees for two hours.  This is quite good for you if you are, in fact, not the person doing it but rather the chiropractor who will make all the money adjusting the thoracics.  

Eat the cheese, Carrie, eat the cheese…

The layover in Tokyo was tops, though.  Whitney- that sweet crackhead songstress- had been trans-Pacifically killing it, and a bunch of little things that I loved but had forgotten about in Tokyo were smack in my face again.  Poppy, chick-singer version of Under the Bridge?  Yes.  Chili Peppers sans strife: weird and magnificent.  Purple starbursty-thingies I haven’t found anywhere else?  Yes.  Little silver wrappers as carpet decor.  I didn’t have time for any ramen, but did sigh a content little sigh of Nip-stalgia.  Ohhhh, Japan…

Anyway, we finally got to the Shangri-La, our swanky-danky digs, around 11 p.m. and since that was almost a solid two days since I’d left Portland, I fell pretty heavily into the mattress.  We were supposed to be at breakfast at 8:30.

I honestly have to pass over breakfast because it was just too wonderful.  I could have happily eaten plates full of actual gouda and cheddar, but I bypassed that station for sashimi, build-your-own-miso, and all the identifiables I could pile.  Look!  The dried fish is looking back at you.  Hurt someone.  

Image

Next we had an intro class on Philippine history, and that was pretty wild, too.  I learned more in two hours than I have in the month of randomly allocated Internet sessions that I used to prepare myself for this trip.  Like, did you know that the Spanish occupied the Philippines for 333 years, but wouldn’t let anyone learn the Spanish?  They basically just passed on their religion and a bunch of surnames, but acted like dicks with the education piece because they knew that educated people can get really good at things like revolutions and overthrowing oppressors.  And then I found out that the US colonized the islands (7,107 of them, whaaaaa?) in 1898, and although I am morally against the concept of colonization because there is overwhelming historical evidence of it being coupled with ravaging and tyranny, I did feel a bit better to learn that that’s when widespread education began.  Plus later, during World War II when Japan had taken over and was doing all sorts of brutal things to the population, the US’s General MacArthur came and sort of saved the day.  In fact, it is unbelievable how celebrated MacArthur is.  There’s this giant picture of him hanging at the embassy, and despite my initial shock that it was Flex’s father (wow, all kinds of people from 2006 have entered this blog post) which sent me into paroxysms of planning for geneological stalking (relax, I got over it) I investigated, and it turns out that he really is a local hero.

Did you hear that?  We went to the embassy and met the ambassador.  That was neat.  I didn’t take any pictures because they checked all phones and cameras at the door, but they did give us some chocolate cake and a highlighter.  And I took a picture of one of the ubiquitous Jeepneys, so you can see exactly what we saw if we were brave enough to open our eyes on the way there.  

Image

A horse-drawn tour of Intramuros was next.  

Image

Intramuros is the walled city from when the Spanish were here and being dickish enough to know that they should build some protective walls in which to live.  It was really pretty because it was magic hour so the light was gloriously illuminating all the old architecture,

Image

and I sort of wanted to get out and walk the thing because I was too tall not to have my head stuck in the folds of the horse drawn canopy, which made it difficult to see.  The ride was nice, though, so eh- eat the cheese.  

Image

Speaking of eating, our final destination last night was a Filipino culture show and buffet. 

Image

The costumes and dancing were pretty awesome, but frankly our stamina was shot and it was difficult to keep our eyes open without some Clockwork Orange device.  The guy next to me actually fell dead asleep, and I totally missed the earthquake that allegedly shook us for going on three minutes.  Total downer, too, because I’m always up for experiencing non-threatening natural disasters, and it upsets me when I do and totally miss it.    

This trip has been and will be quite wonderful, though, so I can’t complain.  I mean I want to sometimes… but I can’t.  1980s Bob Lippert is haunting me.

Next Up: The Philippines

DC Symposium- February 21, 2014-  (I wrote this four months ago but for some reason didn’t post.)

The Assistant Secretary of Educational and Cultural Affairs told us this morning that we were now officially part of US foreign policy, which is frankly a bit of a stretch for someone who- just two nights before- was forced to take “loser shots” for being terrible at trivia.  It also made me feel incredibly pretentious, more so because everything from wallpaper to breakfast sausages was shiny and immaculately presented.  

I’m in DC, y’all, and it’s been pretty good so far.

A couple of years ago- when I got all restless again about being in one place for too long- I applied for everything that would get me out of winter with my sense of financial responsibility intact.  Thus, I got to frolic in the Tokyo twilight and blow some baht on the beaches south of Bangkok.  It was a series of experiences that made the brain sort of explode in neuronal fireworks, and I came back feeling all recharged- if potentially rabid- and ready to inject a more global sensibility into my teaching.  It didn’t take me out of winter, but it sufficed to scratch my travel itch.

And thus, it was with a delighted, “oh, neat!” that I found out I was accepted into this TGC fellowship, too.

TGC stands for Teachers for Global Classrooms, and it’s at the reason I’m here.  The State Department has apparently decided that this program could be a double-whammy in that 1) we could take a global education class that would be immediately effective in our classrooms, which is solid investment in our glowing children and whatnot, and 2) we’ve got the compassion and intellectual background to be effective ambassadors.  So after a rigorous (I invented that part because I want it to have been rigorous) selection process, 73 of us nationally were chosen for the program.  

We took a class last fall.  It was arguably the best professional development in which I’ve participated, though I sort of whimpered fragilely a lot over the course of it.  They’ll also, this spring and summer, sling-shot us each into one of a half-dozen countries to explore their cultures and education systems.  

So yes, I get to go to the Philippines!  

They brought us to DC first, though, to meet as cohorts and do some work that would have been much more difficult online.  They invited our administrators, too, so my principal, Steve, came to learn why global education is important while I languished in another room pouring peppermint tea on, inexplicably, only my crotch and knees.  

Steve kindly included me in dinner plans with his wife and daughter last night, too, which was great because they’re nice and they were getting Ethiopian.  My only prior experience with Horn of African food has been Somalian, so boom- another check on ye olde ethnic food bucket list.  

Ha!  I politely refrained from making “food bucket”  a combination word along the lines of “Brangelina” there.  I’m working really hard to keep the blogging clean because I’m required to keep one for my journey, and I’m not sure the government would smile upon my vivid descriptions of, for example, the Akihabara porn store or Thai penis cave.  

Regardless, Ethiopian food was a solid experience.  We had this charming smily waitress who made all of our decisions for us and then shortly thereafter, a giant spread of flat, thin bread- honestly it was like platter-ployes- arrived with a party’s worth of food orders chunked in pieces all over it.  Each order was a mess of saucy meats or vegetables and spices, and sans silverware- because we were far too cosmopolitan to ask for that- we tore off bits of the rolly-ployes that were served adjacent and used them to tong up the food.  

It’s cool because when everyone’s done, you can roll up the leftovers into some sort of Ethiopian burrito.  If I hadn’t needed to immediately stumble hotelward (loser shots/travel day effect) I’d’ve probably volunteered to do so.  

Nope, though.  Sleep, and another symposium day.

I wish I could say more about the Philippines.  Or DC, really- I love this place but I haven’t been able to get out much in my 24 hours.  Took a walk during our break and, though I love Georgetown and its preponderance of interesting yellow houses that rival Falmouth’s, the only thing that really struck me was the amount of people sprinting down the street wearing headphones.  I generally like this behavior because I approve of the social isolation, fitness, and/or kidnap avoidance it indicates, but it definitely kept me from location-specific observations.  And I don’t have any about the Philippines yet beyond research, and I’d rather that stuff be first-hand.  

Anyway, the parts of my body that demand nutrient absorption are screaming for attention, and I definitely passed a piano bar down M Street.  I’m going to put on dark lipstick and pretend I’m a hep cat and telepathically mind-request Pennies from Heaven.  

Winner shots if any tonight, though.  Because life is pretty durn good.  

June 23, 2014

Three weeks ago, US Airways got all geographically garbled and sent me to Los Angeles on the way to Albuquerque.  I arrived somehow in the New Testament, where I was denied a room and had to shuffle wearily between lodgings until LAX found a place that would take me.  It was a shitty little unflushed room, but since I was only there for a three-hour nap… meh… I endured.  What were the chances I’d ever stay again?

I accidentally booked myself here last night.  

Thus I find myself typing from a hotel bed that is only slightly wider than my hips.  Worthington Ford is selling Nissan Sentras for a LOW, LOW PRICE, which I know because my television only has an on switch.  The bathroom light is flattering, though, and I’m feeling good because as I was in there creating equally flattering poses and trying to figure out what day it was, it finally occurred to me that I’m on an adventure again!

I should have realized this yesterday when the recovering victim of asphalt assault picked me up to start my journey, but I was too busy being another Biblical creature- this one Lazarus, who allegedly lay dead in a cave for four days- to properly comprehend my situation.  Trying to survive the last week of school while moving out of your house and planning a month-long trip to Asia will do that to you.  I don’t think I’ve accomplished more in one week in my entire life.

So, yes!  I’m homeless and I’m headed to the Philippines!  I tried really hard to be either nostalgic about one or excited about the other yesterday, but my first flight was freezing and I was numbed right to my soul.  I actually bought these ridiculous furry things that can only be described as “sockies” for my second flight, but that one was warmer and had one of those fun screens in the seat, so it worked out better and I could start feeling feelings again.  I did so while watching my very first World Cup game ever.  

I actually didn’t even know you could access the game until the entire plane erupted when, apparently, Portugal scored first and I thought we were having a LOST incident.  When everything calmed down, though, and someone finally saw me bobbing my head around looking confused, he lent me these giant headphones that made me look like DJ FIFA Fan- which I’m not because I watch John Oliver- and I got to enjoy the rest of the show.  I even bought him a thank-you drink from the aisle cart, but since the stewardess was blocking me when he ordered and since she didn’t give me a receipt for what appeared to be a plethora of Canadian Clubs, I may have inadvertently paid for a province-wide franchise of Costigan’s.  Costigan’ses?  Ugh.

Anyway, the game was exciting, I felt all kinds of misplaced patriotism because it was exciting and SPORTS! and I finally settled into a place where I can appreciate what’s happening.  

I’m getting on a plane to Manila in a few hours!  I’m going to eat tons and learn tons and experience tons, including bats!  I can’t possibly get rabies because the vaccination lasts for ten years!  I don’t have to live in that apartment anymore when I come home!

I can’t think of a single person in the Bible who could accurately reflect my excitement, so I guess I’m unable to bring this post full circle.  Amen, though, to getting out in the world.

See you sinners in a month!