Saturday, August 25, 2007

Today, I ran my tail off at work. Made $120 in tips, but Jake is staring at me DYING to be walked, and I actually cannot do it tonight.

I'm also stalling. I have a sewing project I've promised to do, but now, much as I would love to be finished with the thing, I didn't hear back from the lady about the questions I'd had (which way the stripes are supposed to go, and should they all go the same direction, or should some go one way, and some the other), so I didn't get to it on my days off -- now I'm working 7 days straight, and have to get this dress done. You'd think I'd plan this better.

I also have a 5,000 word final paper to write...sometime.

I am supposed to hear back from last Saturday's audition "by today." The silence doesn't bode well...

And ironically -- considering today's Little Red Boat post, I cooked myself bacon wrapped pork chops tonight. Stop shuddering, Teri.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Pagoda on top of the Killing Caves

In our first week in Battambang we were taken to the killing fields -- the site of thousands of murders by the Khmer Rouge. Many people were shoved from the top of the mountain to die on the rocks below. Sadistic guards would swing infants into the rock walls. Strong men were either hung or electrocuted.

On top of the mountain is a very old Wat (pagoda is the western word for it). How old? So old that it has throwbacks to its Hindu origens. See the blue statue with all the arms? That's not a Buddhist but a Hindu god in a Buddhist temple. As elsewhere in Asia, beliefs are very mixed together and adopted. Buddhists in cambodia are also strongly influenced by Chinese ancestor worship and tribal animism.

We all look at a gun leftover from the last ditch attempt by the Khmer Rouge to keep the conquering armies from crossing over from Thailand.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More Stories of a Modern Woman

More Stories of a Modern Woman

So tonight, I found myself calling in a claim to my insurance company to get a rock chip in my windshield repaired, while tiling the bathroom wall.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cultural Beauty

Cultural Standards of Beauty

One of the things that amazed me so much about Cambodia is how much they want to look like anything but what they do. Many times people would tell me how beautiful my skin is. I would tell them that their skin is beautiful too (watch American beauty standards coming into play -- we all want to be tan with small noses) and they'd say, no. They have Cambodian skin. I also got stopped a lot by people telling me how beautiful my 'tall' nose is. (In America I've twice been offered to have my nose job paid for.)

We all want to look different than we are. It's probably 'natural' to want to be someone else. I've always wished I could have long straight dark brown hair and small, even features (suprisingly, I've never wanted to be tall, no matter how convenient it would be for reaching top shelves).

In Cambodia light skin is the ultimate desire. Women wear turtlenecks, long pants, elbow length gloves, hats, scarves covering head and face, and often a sweater over all that -- all in the attempt not to tan. It is impossible to buy lotion in this country that isn't whitening - as you can see from the picture.

In one sense it is true that we all want what we can't have. Since most people Cambodia have dark hair, dark skin, and dark eyes, they want white skin, big eyes and tall noses instead. But in one way America is different -- yes we all perhaps aren't satisfied with the way we are made, but there is more of a license to have different kinds of beauty. With all the fashion and design shows out there, one things that does come across (on What Not to Wear for example) is find out what looks best on you. Highlight your own good features and don't try to copy someone else. Even in a culture that does have some standards of beauty -- the look for beauty isn't as cookie cutter anymore. What we consider beautiful is tall, dark, short, tall, dark, light, red, green, black, blue, thin as a stick, or curvy. What is beautiful is to be comfortable in your own skin. Find something you like about yourself and play it up. I, for example, love my eyes and put makeup on them everyday, whether I wear more than chapstick anywhere else. I know Teri loves her hair.

Who else has a favorite feature?

I just wish that my Cambodian sisters can learn to start appreciating how they were made, and how unique their culture is, as they hurry to throw it out and become western as quickly as possible.

Culture is unique. It's alright to like other cultures, other foods, other looks or ways of living. But don't forget to appreciate who you are, and where you were put on this earth.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My so called leisurely day

My so-called leisurely day

I woke up this morning at 9 .... and 10....and 11. (I keep blaming my sleep schedule on the jet lag, though really it's been two weeks and the effects should have worn off by now) Petted the cat, moseyed over to make breakfast, sat down, ate slowly. Enjoyed the fact that I had a few hours until work started to get moving at my favored morning pace...snail. I happened to wander past my day planner and saw, OH MY GOSH! I have to be at work at 12, not 3. It's 11:20. I'm in my pajamas. I have a 45 minute commute.

(I admit it. I swore.) Then I ran around like a mad woman trying to find some of my blacks that aren't covered in lint, wrinkled, or too small (I CAN still blame the rice). Washed my face, threw in my contacts, grabbed my makeup bag and ran to the car. My only detour was to stop at the ATM and pull out some cash to make change (didn't need it, though, almost all paid with credit card and no one wanted change). Called work to tell them I'd overslept and to expect me 10 minutes late, and drove like a restrained bat out of hell because I can't get a ticket again until after my hearing sometime in September for the last ticket I got and paid to defer.

So I got there, 15 minutes late, unshowered, ready to go. It was a medium day. Slow maybe for them, but I had plenty to think about trying to remember how to push all the right buttons.

I made $115. Not bad for my first day back to work. And it makes a bit of a dent, anyway, in all the things I had to charge to my credit card these past few weeks when money was lacking and doctor visits had to be made. Hurrah.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Into the Woods

I'm on my way to Spokane to audition for Into the Woods in concert. We'll see how this goes!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

CS Lewis, Miracles

I've written my 4th paper on CS Lewis - on Miracles. I put my class on hold while I went to Cambodia and now I'm trying to finish it. Lewis and jetlag don't mix, by the way, but I managed to read the book in the past few days, and write the paper this morning, due immediately. I really love academia as a hobby. I don't think I'd do very well with it as the main focus - eventually I'd wonder when are we going to stop talking about things and actually live them. The perpetual existance in the theoretical would drive me up the wall, I'd imagine. For me debate is fun, but only so long as it leads to something practical in the end. What's the point of solving the mysteries of the universe if it doesn't change the way you live your life.

My next paper is on Mere Christianity -- Lewis' most widely read non-fiction book. I'm looking forward to reading it again, as I've quoted it a lot in previous papers on Lewis.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

So, I'm that person, am I?

So I'm that person, am I?

I caught a mental image of myself standing in line at the supermarket...all my groceries in my eco-shopping bag, blouse with traces of cat hair from petting Cai when I got back from Seattle. Somehow it all tied in with the usual question, "So, any men in your life we should know about?" Nope. Some good friends. And most of them, right now, are in Cambodia and far younger than me.

How is it that everyone around me seems to be all caught up in dating as a lifestyle. Did I miss the memo back in high school? Because now it seems that I've been so content (minus those lovely college years) to be single for so long, I don't even miss it. Other than the usual faint longing that stir when watching a Romantic Comedy or walking accidentally through the 'baby section' of anywhere. (I don't know anyone who can withstand the allure of baby booties. I know my sister sure as heck can't.)

I don't think I'm alone here. Though, four people I know have gotten married in the last 7 months or so. I don't hate men, in fact I rather like them as a whole. So what am I missing. Where did I lose the "must be in a relationship" drive. Was I absent that day?

Monday, August 06, 2007

You know you've been there, when

You know you've been there, when...

You're watching Will&Grace and there's a scene where she's standing in the KFC in Cambodia, and you start yelling -- There's no KFC in Cambodia. In Thailand. Not in Cambodia.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Little Women

"Rich people have no right to sit down and enjoy themselves, or let their money accumulate for others to waste. It's not half so sensible to leave legacies when one dies as it is to use the money wisely while alive, and enjoy making one's fellow creatures happy with it. We'll have a good time ourselves, and add an extra relish to our own pleasure by giving other people a generous taste. Will you be a little Dorcas, going about emptying a big basket of comforts, and filling it up with good deeds?"

Louisa May Alcott
Little Women

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Guilt ridden angst

Guilt-ridden angst night

I've been talking with some of the other westerners, all of whom are struggling with a combination of jet lag and culture shock. It's good to know I'm not the only one struggling with depression and guilt about all the stuff I have sitting around. My mother tried to give me a bunch of her clothes today and I couldn't take anymore. I have so much (none that fit right now -- but that's another story). The clothes she gave me were more than what I wore for 6 months in Cambodia. It's not the clothes -- Cambodian people in general have WAY more than I do. But we have so much stuff. Such clean streets. Such huge houses and green lawns. Paved roads. Grocery stores. Advertisements encouraging us to buy more and more. And I can't handle it right now. I can't walk though Wrays without getting flashes of the Mondulkiri Psar. I see someone's lovely green yard and see the yellowed patch of grass in Poipet where dozens of families are trying to have a picnic. I read the National Geographic in the waiting room and the pictures inside are more real to me than the doctors' office.

I'm struggling, and tired, and sleeping at odd hours, and depressed, and guilty, and overwhelmed.

So sorry that I haven't been out much. The little I've been out has been almost too much. Today I went the the doctor and almost cried at how clean the floor is. How much care was taken, compared to the 5 families stuck in one room with a woman coughing Tuburculosis everywhere.

So I'll try to get out more, but it's difficult enough staying in. There's nothing wrong with having things...and I'm trying so hard not to judge myself and judge others. But I have these pictures in my head now, that flash up in odd moments, and I want to cry almost all the time.

So, this too shall pass. Probably sooner than it ought.