The other half of it

It occurred to me a day or two ago that I’ve done a bunch of yakking about training on this blog, and not a lot of talking about much else. So now it’s time to get into the bits and pieces of everyday life here. It’s leg kicks AND culture shock, after all. It’s not all sunshine, happiness, and lumpy bruises. I’m not writing this one to mope, just sort of getting my thoughts out and down on something instead of having them chase each other around my head.

I can already hear a bunch of you going “Oh no, poor Eric, has to suffer through a completely new experience that we’d kill to have, poor guy.” And to an extent, that’s right. But it’s not quite that simple most of the time. Some of you know that I’ve been in therapy and on anti-depressants for the last few months(and if you didn’t before, now you do). It’s not something I’m ashamed of, it just generally doesn’t come up in casual conversation. As you might imagine, the kind of wholesale pulling up stakes that we did on our way out of Rochester didn’t do me a lot of favors, which is somewhat continuing while we’re here. That’s not to say I hate it here, because that’s not true. But it’s an accumulation of little, and not so little, things that can drop on me sometimes to make me feel at least a little alienated and alone. For instance, I went out with Tryn to her department’s party for welcoming new teachers last night. Her coworkers are all pretty cool and seem like a lot of fun, so that wasn’t a problem. When we left, a bunch of you had asked me what I was going to do about food in Thailand, considering how much of it here is fish and other seafood. That turned out to be the question of the night, and EVERYthing had some kind of fish in it. Ordinarily, my first reflex in this kind of situation is to shrug and go “I’ll just hit a drive-through on the way home”, and it isn’t a big deal. Well, that’s not quite how it works here- there’s no drive-through, and even if there was, I have no car to get to it with.

That’s another big factor in my occasional bursts of angst. Getting a car was a big deal for me. It meant my schedule was under my control, not tied to whenever somebody else was headed to the bank, or the store, or wherever. It was, in a big way, representative of my freedom as an adult. If I wanted to go to Wegman’s at 3AM, get a container of ice cream and a frozen pizza and eat them, I could do it. My stomach would be really unhappy the next day, but the option was always on the table. Not only do I not have a car here, I don’t even have a stove, so I’m pretty severely limited in what I can eat in the apartment, by what will actually fit in the fridge, is microwaveable, and can be transported home on my bike. Again, I hear a lot of you going “Oh no, you don’t have to cook, how awful for you.” The problem is, I LIKE cooking. And there’s a string of un-poisoned people who have been in my dining room who can tell you that I’ve never killed anyone(to my knowledge) with my food. Cooking was relaxing, in a task-focused “Okay, let’s get X ready in time to go on the table when Y comes out of the oven, and Z got put on to simmer half an hour ago, so that should be all set whenever everything else is done” kind of way. You lose your focus on what you’re doing, and all of a sudden there’s smoke and burned smells, and now you’re just ordering a pizza instead.

That’s not even getting into the language barrier, both written and spoken. But I think that’s probably self-evident anyway. But I think that’s enough for now. Don’t worry, there won’t be too many of these, I know most of you read this to have a laugh at my expense when 13-year olds make me look dumb in the gym. We’ll be back to our regularly-scheduled goofiness soon enough, but every now and again I need to put this all down in writing someplace.

-end transmission

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