Monthly Archives: July 2011

in which i learn that not everyone is just like me

Wat Chetuphon in Chiang Mai, Thailand

So my ensemble went to Thailand.  I haven’t been back in four years and it was amazing for me.  Unfortunately I learned a valuable lesson:

Not everyone is in love with Southeast Asia.

On this trip I saw Thailand through the eyes of someone whose entire previous experience with foreign travel has been western Europe.  From the moment we got off the plane (and even before) she was unhappy.  I spent a lot of the trip trying to help her feel more comfortable, but I really feel responsible at least in part for how unhappy she was.  I had been building this trip up as a great opportunity and experience for us, and things it wouldn’t even have occurred to me to mention turned out to be very, very big deals.  She tried hard to like it but it just wasn’t going to happen, and as the trip went on my heart just broke, not only because she couldn’t see what I saw, but because I felt like I got her into a situation she was utterly unprepared for.  Her Thailand was awful.  It wasn’t anything like traveling in Italy or Austria, and I can say with absolute certainty that she will never go back.

Her Thailand was dirty and crowded and full of strange smells and cloudy and hot and dangerous and confusing.  The buildings were poorly constructed and poorly kept up and probably dangerous and too close together and not zoned in any discernable way.  The food was not at all like what one would get in a Thai restaurant back home:  it was greasy and too spicy or not spicy enough and there was too much seafood and it was probably dangerous.  Getting around was impossible because the taxis didn’t have seat belts in the back seat and the public transportation was wholly inadequate.  She spent a lot of time in the hotel room just waiting till it was time to go rehearse.

Elephant topiaries at Lumphini Park in Bangkok

My Thailand is unimaginably beautiful.  My Thailand is hot and muggy, yes,** and crowded and loud — I’d be in deep denial not to note those things — but it’s also full of friendly people and music and laughter.  I really tried to show my colleague what I love about it, but each time we were just stopped at the starting gate.  When we went shopping at the famous weekend market in Bangkok, the smell of a drain was too much for her and we went back to the hotel almost immediately.  She sat out of several great outings (dinner with some Thai friends, a trip up a mountain to see a famous temple) because she would have had to go without a seat belt.  When we walked around the city together, we couldn’t find the one particular restaurant she had wanted to try, and none of the food we ate was acceptable to her.  The street food seemed dangerous, the restaurants catering to Thai people seemed sketchy, and the restaurants catering to tourists were too bland.

I just keep turning all of this over in my mind, and I don’t know how much of it was my responsibility.  Could I have prepared her better?  Certainly I was wrong to assume that everyone would be in love with Southeast Asia in the same way that I am; and until this trip I didn’t even realize I was assuming it.

Part of the market in Chiang Mai

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and it has occurred to me that I’ve never (or rarely) traveled anywhere that I didn’t like.  I’ve never been to Europe, but I’ve been all over the U.S., lots of places in Southeast Asia, and New Zealand.  I’ve liked every single place, and loved many of them.  I suppose I’ve been extremely lucky in that regard — maybe I haven’t been pushed out of my comfort zone in the same way that my friend was on this trip.

It just makes me feel so sad that she wasn’t able to love this place that I love so well.

*I actually have a really nice camera.  It’s got settings and buttons and gadgets that my husband likes to play with.  Unfortunately for me it’s a camera that requires you to know how to use it properly, which is why the pictures I take are always out of focus.  I really want an idiot-proof camera:  the kind with two buttons, one to turn it on and off, and another to take a picture.  But my husband would not be satisfied with anything like that, and there’s no reason to have two cameras.

**Strangely, it was considerably cooler than my Midwestern city is right now.  Fucking heat wave.


only a few hours till dinner!

I’m in Thailand for a week and a half for a music festival. Luckily, before I have to get to work I have a few days to adjust to the time difference and do a little sightseeing.  I love Southeast Asia, and I’m so happy to be back!  I just wish my husband had been able to come with me.

As I always do when I travel, I am spending my time taking pictures of food, then eating it.  Here’s breakfast and lunch:


Planned Parenthood didn’t save my life.  At least, not right there in the exam room.

Every time I went there, they gave me a pelvic exam and a prescription for oral contraceptives. Unlike the student health center at my university, they didn’t make me watch condescending videos about how babies are made.  They didn’t tell me my tattoo probably meant I had hepatitis.

They charged me on a sliding scale and didn’t even ask if I had insurance.

They didn’t save my life, and my story is unremarkable in its ordinariness, but that’s why it’s important.  There are millions and millions of me — people who needed, and received, basic health care without judgment or undue expense.

Planned Parenthood does lots of things for lots of people, and a lot of what it does is ordinary.  It shouldn’t be invisible.

planned parenthood blog carnival

Have I said it enough times?  Reproductive choice means all choices.  The GOP’s state-by-state assault on reproductive choice since the 2010 elections cannot be ignored.  Planned Parenthood has been specifically targeted in Kansas, Indiana, and other places.

On July 7, Melissa at Shakesville and Tami at What Tami Said are hosting “My Planned Parenthood,” a blog carnival inviting women to tell our stories about how Planned Parenthood has been there for us.

Here’s how to participate.

I plan to participate in the carnival and I hope you will too.  In my case, PP was my only source for women’s health care and oral contraceptives during my uninsured early 20s.  (The complete lack of necessity for the pill hadn’t yet become apparent.)

Here’s how to participate.

Oh, and did I mention, Here’s how to participate.


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i hear it’s windy

For those of you keeping score at home, yes, it is 4:00 in the morning again.

My last post was a long-winded lead-up to the talk my husband and I had last night.  It started out being about my job; my husband thinks my job is the root of all my problems, and he is constantly trying to get me to march into my boss’s office and tell her where to go.  Unfortunately if I were to do that, neither one of us would have a job and we would be on the express train to living in my mother’s spare room.

And no one wants that.

Anyway, he sees me tired, frustrated, and literally sick with worry, and he figures I should solve the problem by just quitting.  But that wouldn’t do it.  It would be moving in the opposite direction of my uncle’s fantastic advice to “put family first.”  Regardless of the obvious idiocy of quitting the only job in the household, it would put us even farther away from the possibility of parenthood.  We went back and forth on this for a while last night — he says he can’t stand to see me like this, I say I can’t imagine how much worse I would be if I didn’t know where the rent money was coming from.

He asks how he can help me feel better; I tell him that the number one thing he can do is try to find work.

He tells me he feels like I don’t want to spend time with him; my heart breaks a little because it’s so, so not true.  We both agree that the last six months have been very, very bad for our relationship and we can’t keep going like this.

He says he’ll find a job and then I can quit without worrying.

Yes, that’s exactly the idea.

I tell him about my secret plan, which I haven’t mentioned to him at all before because I was afraid of his reaction.

In my secret plan, I expand my neverending job search outside of our current city.  He does the same.  In the ultra top-secret version that I don’t even let myself think about too often, we both actually find jobs and move to Chicago.

Alert readers may or may not be aware that Chicago is in fact located in Illinois, which is one of the magical states that mandates insurance coverage for infertility treatment.  (Do they really exist?)

My plan has been a secret for a while now because I haven’t wanted him to feel pressured.  This spring his priority, and by extension our family priority, has been getting him through his degree.  He did it, and I’m so proud of him.  But now it’s time to put family first.

Becoming a parent is definitely at the top of my emotional list, but we haven’t done a goddamn thing about it since we got the bad news from the urologist last fall.  And as you may or may not know, I am in fact getting older every single day!  Sometimes I think I can actually feel my eggs aging.  We can’t fuck around for another three years (has it really been three years?).  There can be no more “wait and see if it happens.”

My husband acknowledged for the first time last night that IVF/ICSI really is what we will need to do to get me pregnant.  He has been extremely optimistic so far, thinking if we just keep trying it will happen naturally, but I think he’s starting to see just how long we’ve been trying and how well that’s (not) working for us.  As for me, I’ve been working through my issues with IVF, and while I still viscerally don’t want to do it, I think it would be much, much worse never to try and to be eighty years old wondering if that would have been the golden ticket.

So I trotted out the secret plan.

I was very, very nervous about telling him because I know he has strong ties to our current city and I didn’t know how willing he would be to make active plans to leave.  He has really found a place for himself here as an artist, and I don’t ever want him to feel like I am trying to take that away from him.  But he can see how unhappy I am, and have been now for what seems like forever, and he did ask me what he could do to help.

He said he would be willing to move, provided we were able to find work, of course.

So as soon as I get back from the festival I’m doing in a couple of weeks, I’m going to expand my neverending job search, and he will hopefully do the same, effective immediately.  Unfortunately I am just about the least-employable person imaginable, so I have no illusions that we will actually succeed at this.

But at least we will have tried.