Countdown

As of Friday, we’re officially moved out of Suphanburi and we’re currently hanging out, once again, at our camp in Bangkok. As per usual, the people here are making me wish I had been able to make it down more often, but we’re a bit past the point of being upset about it. We head to the airport on Tuesday night, and then we TRAVEL THROUGH TIME AND SPACE TO THE PAST. Also known as flying back to New York through several time zones. It’s crazy to think that it’s time to go, but here it is, and very soon now I’ll be completely miserable for a full day on a plane again. I’ve really been looking forward to that part.

One thing I keep getting asked is if I feel like I got what I wanted out of my time here, and if I felt like it was worth it, and yadda yadda. I know it’s the end of a major trip that we planned for a long time, but to the surprise of nobody, I just can’t really wax too lyrical on getting beat up by Thai teenagers. At least not to people who don’t get it. I got punched in the face a lot, thrown around like a rag doll, lost a crapton of weight, am reasonably sure that I’ve improved, and will cheerfully continue on with training once I get home. I don’t really know how to respond to that with anything other than what I just wrote, and that’s not really the stuff of a 40 stanza poem, if you ask me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll have plenty to say about it to all gym-related people at home, but they’ll also have more of a reaction when I describe technical details than a look of vague confusion and a nod to hopefully move the conversation on.

Two of Tryn’s older coworkers, who we both got along with fairly well, were a little concerned that we were going to have negative memories of the trip. I thought about it for a second, but most of the bad crap that happened wasn’t really that awful. And really, it could have happened anywhere. Yes, my wallet got stolen, our bank account got frozen for a few weeks, and I got hit by a pickup truck. But none of those are really Thailand-specific incidents. Now, if I’d been attacked by a pack of stray dogs while going to the hospital for dengue fever, maybe then I’d have more of a reason for a terminal case of screw this country-itis, but it helps to keep things in perspective. I think the wallet incident more highlighted how bizarre it was that I’d never been pickpocketed before after living in New York my whole life.

I think the thing it’s going to take the longest to re-acclimatize to  is going to be speaking the same language as everyone around us again. I anticipate sticking my foot in my mouth a few times while forgetting that yes, everyone around me can understand what I’m saying. Hopefully I’ll muddle through with a minimum of black eyes. Also strange will be the ability to actually read signs and labels again, but that’ll be more in a good way. Oh, and trainers who speak English! For as much good as that does me sometimes, anyway.

What else is there really to say? We’re enjoying our last few days here, but it’s just about time to go. I’m glad we came, but I’m not shedding any tears about leaving, either. And you know what’ll keep me from doing it? Pizza. All the freaking pizza in all of New York city is going to be subject to the gaping void commonly referred to as my stomach. ALL OF IT. I’m going to eat, roll over, and pass out into a cheese-induced coma, wake up, and do it again the next day. And then maybe call up some people I haven’t seen in half a year and we can all do that. It’s going to be glorious.

We’re coming home.

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Mo’ money, mo’ dinner

It’s been a long road, but here we are in October. 16 days left, but really, who’s counting? Some days I feel like we’ve barely just gotten here(not often), and some days I feel like we haven’t seen our own shores in years(kind of a lot). As Tryn put it before we left, you can do a lot of things if it’s only for a few months, which doesn’t sound all that long now that we’re on the tail end of it.

The really fun part about these last two weeks is that we finally don’t have to give a damn about money. Tryn got paid a few days ago, and she’ll get paid again on the 12th, so we can do all the things we’ve been wishing we could, but had to say no to due to needing to not burn through all of her paychecks. Although I should be honest, when I say “all the things we couldn’t do”, what I really mean is eat a lot of awesome food. We made another trip to Firehouse, known to some of you who have asked about it as Burger Heaven, and I think we were so happy to have red meat that the people at the table next to us might have been a little disturbed. Between the appetizer and the sheer size of the portions on the burger, I actually got full about halfway through, but there was no way I was leaving any of it.

We’ve also blown a nice chunk of money on training over the last few days back at Watcharachai’s place. I got to work with cranky smoking guy again, which remains as great as it was last time. He’s easily my favorite trainer to work with out of everyone I’ve been to. Mostly the thing that I like the most is how easy it is to get along with everyone here, which is helped by the fact that we all eat breakfast and dinner together. Also, everyone generally seems to be enjoying themselves even in the middle of gasping for air and wondering why 4 minutes is all of a sudden so freaking long. I also have to admit to being wrong about Bun, the guy I had a bad time with last time. Both of my workouts with him this time were really good, so maybe something was up last time.

It’s been a pretty good couple of weeks since I last updated, except for car shopping, which is probably an entire separate post’s worth of aggravation. Anyway, to let everyone know where we’ll be and when, our current timetable looks like this-

10/17- Fly out of Bangkok at 2AM(ugh), layover in Shanghai, get to JFK airport in New york at 2PM(time zones suck balls).

10/21- MS bike ride with dad and Jacob. 30 miles, so hopefully I’ll have kicked off the jet lag by then.

10/24- Flying back out of New York(yes, that is actually happening) to Hawaii for Bridget’s birthday.

11/1- Fly back to NY

11/2- Drive up to Rochester

11/3- Tryn’s slightly-delayed birthday party

That’s what we’re looking at right now, barring any kind of major schedule issues. Which there won’t be. Right, universe? Right.

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One last day in black and green

I had to let this one cook a bit before I got around to writing it.

In one of my not-so-great decisions, I got to get in the ring and fight almost two years ago. As most of you know, it didn’t go so well, considering I was about as unprepared as you could be in terms of conditioning, weight, and ability(that unimportant thing). A few months after that, I got a taste of actual muay thai from Mark Beecher, who’s a well-known pro trainer, and his brother Primo, who’s on record as saying that we’re all idiots, but at least we’re HIS idiots. I was just blown away by how much both of them knew about it and kind of surprised at how much I wanted to go learn more from them. Or, as Tryn put it, “That’s odd, the Irish generally have never known anything about recreationally clobbering people.”

Right. So in a bit of serendipity, it turned out that Primo’s gym was no more than a 5 minute walk away from the house of some very good friends. In fact, I’d actually been in the liquor store in the plaza the gym was in, and if I’d bothered to walk another 100 feet, I could have saved myself a lot of wasted time with the other jokers in Rochester. But I didn’t, and much like my romantic relationships, the failures at least taught me what I WASN’T looking for.

So I did a few free classes, signed up immediately after the trial was up, and here I am a year and a half later. It started with “Wow, I can’t believe how much of this I’ve been doing wrong, the fight team here is kind of terrifying”, and ended yesterday with a pretty emotional farewell to the fight team that I’d managed to work myself onto. All of my blood, sweat, failure, and success between has been one of the greatest times of my life. I started as a sloppy mess of a fighter whose only distinguishing feature was wearing a leather trenchcoat(it’s actually a duster, but that never would have stuck). I leave with a group of people who, in every way but biologically, have become my family in a way I’d never have expected and would never trade for anything.

Hell, you guys even won Tryn over. After that first fight, stupid diet, and bad weight, she didn’t want me fighting again, and I couldn’t even argue much. And she certainly hadn’t even entertained the idea of training herself. But again, here we are a year later, and she’s just started talking about how she might want to work up to sparring and how much she’s looking forward to getting shiny new gear for cheap when we get to Thailand.

What else can I say? I love you all, and thank you for everything. I hope I make you guys proud over there.

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Operation: Be Social, complete

Well, it’s 6:45 on Sunday night, and I feel about like I did after running the Warrior Dash. Between the deaf benefit Friday, the car accident right before it, the going away party and Vertex yesterday,and the 6 or so hours of sleep I got total during the weekend, I’m oversocialized like a grouchy dog. And like a grouchy dog, all I really want to do is pee on the rug and go to sleep. But we don’t have a rug, and I’m pretty sure that would void our security deposit anyway, so I’ll have to deal with writing instead. Don’t get me wrong, the last few days were a lot of fun, and I was happy to see everyone, but I’m out of gas.

This week’s mission is to get ourselves moved back into Tryn’s mom’s place for our last few days here, so we’re going to have to really crank up the donate-store-trash cycle. We’re most of the way done at this point, but it’s still a monstrous pain in the ass. Easier than moving usually is, though, because this time we get to throw out anything we don’t feel like keeping. I know that’s a pretty normal part of moving, but this is motivated by necessity- when we come home, what are we going to be able to pack up and move with? Our primary thought right now is having as little junk as possible when we come back to the states.

It’s liberating, in a way. It feels kind of good to be able to shrug and go “Toss it” at will. We’ve always thought of ourselves as people who don’t place a ton of value on material things, and I guess it’s nice to have our self-images confirmed, considering how little we really care about keeping. Although, to be fair, a lot of our things were bought with this goal in mind anyway. I’m not shedding too many tears over the dresser I got at the flea market for ten dollars if I drag it down to the curb. It IS pretty bizarre to not have fifty bajillion boxes of books hanging around, but I guess that’s the magic of having a Kindle.

We also just got back from dropping the cats off with their babysitter for the next 6 months, which I’m pretty bummed about, to say the least. They’re my little monsters, and I already miss them. But at least we finally got someone who can take them and won’t be wanting to keep them once we get home. Although when we went to Belize, I accidentally adopted one of the strays when I gave him some milk, and he followed me around for the rest of the time we were there. I wasn’t too upset about that.

So we’re at one more week in Rochester. The 30th is when we’re headed down to New York to see my family before we fly out of JFK. I’m having a bit of a mental disconnect every time I wake up and look around and realize one more day has clicked off the calendar. What can you do but go with it?

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Insert “first post” cliche here.

Today seems as good a day as any to get this thing up and going. We’re at two weeks to the day until we blow out of here. I have to say, I’m vacillating pretty frequently between “Oh my god, coolest thing ever!” and “Oh my god, what the hell is wrong with me?” But I guess that’s pretty normal when you’re moving to the other side of the world for half a year, especially considering my previous international experience amounts to-

Belize, for ten days on our honeymoon. Awesome, but temporary.

Canada, for like a day. I don’t know, I don’t think I was old enough to have hair on my legs yet. That fabled era beyond the mists of history.

And here we are picking up and leaving for 5-6 months to a country on the opposite side of the world. My sum total knowledge of Thailand is that they will be kicking me in the legs a lot, and the food will probably make me belch fire. That first one is the big reason I’m excited. For the…I don’t know, 3 and a half of you who don’t know, I’ve been training in muay thai for some time now, which is a style of kickboxing that comes from, you guessed it, Thailand. So I’m off to learn from the masters, in the motherland. I don’t even know where yet, I’m just going to wander the town looking for a place to train. And I’m pretty sure that’s how a lot of kung fu movies start. So that’s pretty great.

But it’s not all sunshine, roses, and bruised legs. There’s the flight to deal with, first. The 21 hour flight. Crossing many time zones, leading to horrific jet lag. I hate flying, is what I’m saying. Which seems like a small enough thing to bitch about, considering the bigger picture, but cut me some slack. I need to have something to complain about.

However, a day full of packing, throwing out, and getting vaccinated leaves me without a lot of gas left in the tank at this hour, and bed is calling my name. These entries will get a ton more interesting once we’re in Thailand, promise.

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