balloon seller in Chiang Mai

Life sucks until it doesn’t anymore

I feel good.

However, if you’d have told me what my life would be like if I moved back to Thailand before I did it, I’m not sure I would have returned.

I know now why we can’t see in to our future – doing so prevents us from ever meeting up with it.

Let me explain. Back in December, I thought my life was going to go down another trajectory. I thought we were leaving SE Asia behind for a life back in the States. I was so so wrong.

Then when we decided we were going to Thailand, I thought we’d end up in Chiang Mai where we had previously lived, where I have many friends, where I could land as softly as possible. Wrong again.

Instead, my former boss (and great friend) extended his hand out and said, “I’ve got a job for you in Chiang Rai if you want it.” We took his hand and allowed him to help us up.

Where you heading? *shrugs shoulders* I don’t know…[Chiang Rai, Thailand]
Another friend in the Rai secured us a place to live. And when we thanked him profusely for all that he and his wife had done, lending us things and picking us up from the bus station, he said, “You helped us a lot when we first moved here. And J is grateful for all the teaching stuff you’ve taught her.”

I sat in the front seat of their new used car blinking back tears.

It’s been an intense 2018 so far, filled with changes that have been costly mentally and physically so that every act of kindness from my friends in Hawaii to Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai has humbled me again and again.

Despite all this, the idea of building my life up again in my mid-forties did not excite me. I tried to be enthusiastic about it, but honestly I tried not to think about what a failure I was, the choices I made and the climb ahead. But now that I’ve bagged my closest peak, I’ve got to say standing on top, taking in the view and feeling the wind in my hair feels great.

Teaching is not like a regular desk job. It’s much more physical than others might not realize. There are a lot of unpaid hours, too. And I’ve just completed a month-long slog of non-stop teaching. It wasn’t pretty, even had one of those month-long Chinese colds, and I don’t want to ever do a repeat performance. I started to entertain dark thoughts towards the end of it. I’m not a busy-body so this stint didn’t suit my constitution or personality. But it’s done! Done!

@ the 75 Anniversary Flag and Lamp Park, [Chiang Rai, 2014]
And the reward was making purchases that helped get our lives back on straight. We’d marvel at each one and the difference it made in our lives. We took it slow because we had to, but I’m glad we had to.

The BF stared at the shoe rack we bought. “Wow. That thing really makes a difference, doesn’t it?”

We exhausted ourselves one evening after work trying to decide what bed sheets to buy because the apartment next door opened up. This allowed him to move out of our studio. We’ve been sharing the same places for months and even under the best circumstances, we missed having personal space. We need alone time.

But with all these home purchases, we’ve become a better purchasing team. He’d inevitably point out the compromise. And now I can look at our growing supply of basics and feel pretty damn good about them.

We admire them. I can’t tell you the last time we did this, unless it was plants. I suppose because we’ve been uprooted and now that we’re establishing roots again, we appreciate the details we’re putting back in our lives.

I was originally depressed when we moved into our new apartment because it didn’t have a kitchen which is very typical in Asia. But I like to cook. Looking for new places didn’t produce any good results either and we began to realize that we didn’t have the time or the transportation to look for something we really wanted, so we settled. I know American expats who have bought burners and make it work, but I didn’t want to do that.

Then I got the bright idea of looking up, “cooking without a kitchen”.

So now, I’m thrilled to have: a microwave, toaster, water kettle, rice cooker and a crock pot. For as much as Thai food is cheap and delicious, eating out all the time for the past several months has gotten exhausting. Slow cookers also suit me because I’m a planner. I’d often cook soups, stews and Western food anyway. And what’s this about baking desserts in slow cookers? OMG. I can’t wait!

Now, there’s still much we need to do. We’re still trying to establish ourselves, but things are looking up.

Thanks for following along. And Happy Thai New Year.

22 thoughts on “Life sucks until it doesn’t anymore

  1. So glad to hear things are in a better place for you, Lani. For a while it did sound like a big struggle for you. It really is very kind for so many people to reach out for you just like that. Not saying it pays to be kind, but I think if you are good, the universe has a way of letting things work out for you when you need it the most.

    ‘I know now why we can’t see in to our future – doing so prevents us from ever meeting up with it.’ This line made me ponder. I do think to an extent we can control our future but really, life is so unpredictable you just don’t know what will happen tomorrow – you don’t know what you will get, what you will lose, whom you will meet and where you will decide to go.

    Hope you put that slow cooker to use and maybe you will share some photos of what you cook on IG 😛 I haven’t used a slow cooker before but have heard wonderful things about it – and do give the dessert cooking in the pot a try! Usually I’m a pot and pan kind of girl in the kitchen, nice and simple and though my apartment’s kitchen is small, it is big enough for a cooking a simple meal with them.

    Also, Owl City and Lindsey Stirling. Had to smile at that one. An oldie but a goodie 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. As far as meeting the future, I kept thinking if someone had told me I’d be living in a kitchen-less apt, working non-stop, you know, those kinds of things, then I would want to avoid it. And if someone told me that returning to Hawaii would change my relationship with my mom (and not for the better) then I think I would have chosen a different route, you know? Because we want to avoid pain and struggle, I don’t think we’d ever be interested in meeting our future. Does that make sense?

      Slow cooking! I can’t wait to try desserts. I’ve been drooling over the photos I’ve found.

      Yeah, Owl City. Love him. He’s so upbeat and positive. I’m blown away by his lyrics and I was rediscovering him and some of his older stuff that I had missed, like the Lindsey Stirling song – those lyrics!

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      1. Yeah, it’s like if we see the future and see it’s hard then we’d rather not – when it could be quite an experience in itself. Sometimes it is better just not knowing and going with it all.

        Cook and in no time you will become Chef Lani 😛

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  2. My congratulations for you and BF to be on a good path. And to have a kitchen with appliances to cook: yahoo!

    I would be like you, tired of eating out…and worrying about weight control.
    Enjoy the next turn in life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m discovering the benefits of us having started in a small space. We didn’t feel overwhelmed and it allowed us to grow slowly into it and feel successful along the way.

      NO weight gain worry over eating out. Thai portions are not Western sized. At least not yet!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so happy things are looking up! Seems like you and the BF are really hitting your stride in your new place. Also, I’m envious/thrilled about your cooking arrangement! That was something I could never get the hang of in Korea; mostly because I detest cooking, but also because I used the little kitchen I had as a ridiculous excuse not to even try. I love your setup. We just got an instant pot and it’s been amazing to use. I’d love to hear about crockpot dessert results!

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    1. Well, the cooking arrangement had to happen. I’ve always had a kitchen except back in the early days of expat-hood. It just opens up so many possibilities even if they are simple ones. I don’t know how Asians do it! I mean, I know some cook on their tiny balconies! But the slow cooker, yeah, thank you Google search, that’s been my savor.

      Thanks for the good vibes 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I was following on Instagram what you were saying about working every day in a month and I was horrified! Every time we need to make up a holiday on the weekend (#thanksChina) I am SO exhausted by the 6th working day and my productivity and quality are affected. Glad to hear the month is done!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me, too! Next year, I’ll try to arrange it so that I’m not doing this again. But this year, I was ready to help, needed to fill up the treasure chest and didn’t know what I was really getting into! Thanks!

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  5. I’ve slowly come to appreciate that the purpose of life is to “get” it. Decades ago I read T. S. Eliot’s statement, “We had the experience but missed the meaning” and I understood the meaning of the words but couldn’t really grasp the truth of it. What I’m getting at is when you talk of “failure” in life I think, when we pan back, the biggest failure is the failure to appreciate it fully. And to appreciate it fully quite often seems to require failing on the more superficial level of acquiring and maintaining the superficial trappings of success.

    A lot of people achieve all those things and then find their lives are somehow empty, that they faithfully played the game, achieved well according to soceity’s standards, but are not fulfilled and don’t really know what’s missing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. I think it’s natural thought to reflect and wonder “what if” especially when choices that seemed like the right ones at the time turn sour.

      I can’t see into the future though! Will all this moving and adapting mean I’ll be able to handle the zombie apocalypse better?

      Or does it have to mean anything at all?

      It’s an important step nevertheless to contemplate TS Eliot’s words in a world of consumerism. I hope to “get” it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Lani,
    Good to hear that things are looking up for you.
    Things have been tough for me too due to life circumstances and regardless it was due to my own or others fault, I never gave up hope that things will get better soon.
    By the way, I just returned from a seven days trip to Chiangmai.
    Perhaps, we can meet in Chiangmai if return to Chiangmai again?

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    1. Hi Wendy. I’m sorry things have been rough for you. I understand.

      I don’t live in CM anymore, but if you find yourself further north then yeah, we might be able to meet. Gotta get those starts aligned just right 😉

      Hope things look up and up real soon for you. Cheers.

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  7. Hi Lani,
    Oh yes, I do know that you are in Chiangrai. It is just that I was thinking that it might be more convenient for us to meet in CM. Anyhow, I will try to contact you if I find myself end up traveling further up north one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m glad you’re doing so well now. It is fun, isn’t it, to bring home a new household item when you need it.
    I know what you mean about needing to have cooking facilities. We lived in a hotel room for more than a month while we were looking for a house in Vanuatu. I thought it would be nice to eat out every day. Not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that I learned how to cook and appreciate it. And I’m equally glad that we figured out a way around it! Thanks!

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