There’s a Thai word “greng jai” that has always annoyed me. It’s basically used to describe a person who doesn’t want to be an inconvenience to anyone. They don’t want to be a bother, and it’s supposed to be a positive trait. We have this same idea, too, in American culture, but I feel it does more harm than good.
Sometimes I feel like an anomaly. I’m a 45 year old American Thai-Chinese woman who was born in Hawaii, who has lived on three continents, and who was raised by a Thai immigrant mother and a working class white male. I can’t squeeze into an “ism”. My dress size is small in America, but extra-large in Asia. I’m too American in Asia and not Asian enough in America.
The front door was open because we’ve been experiencing cool weather lately. But they don’t do screen doors in SE Asia so mosquitoes and other critters can fly in. It’s maddening, but there you have it. And since we don’t have a dining room table I was sitting on the floor, using our couch as a table to eat my chicken soup while I read an article on my Samsung phone about communism that my brother sent.
Last week, my Public Speaking and Debate students gave their first formal speeches. As always, I was intrigued by what each new set of students will talk about and how they will deliver their speeches. One student in particular gave a speech called, “How to love yourself without losing weight” that brought a tickle of tears behind my eyes.
It has become a necessity for me to write down my early memories. If I neglect to do so for a single day, unpleasant physical symptoms immediately follow. As soon as I set to work they vanish and my head feels perfectly clear…. Something within me has been touched. A gradient has formed, and I must write. -Carl Jung, from Memories, Dreams, and Reflections
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Blaise Pascal
Island of the Blue Dolphins fed my melancholic soul when I was a child. I wasn’t naturally sad, but after my father’s death, I felt very alone and withdrawn. Island of the Blue Dolphins is about a girl stranded alone on an island (and interestingly enough was based on a true story), and it comforted me more than family or friends.