Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Mexico

The reason I was delayed in a Holiday Post was because I went on vacation! Hurrah!

My mother and I road-tripped to New Mexico, Land of Enchantment.

It's a pretty nice state. It has a dry beauty, much like a person who spent their whole life working outside is beautiful. We were there in wintertime, but you can see color through the sepia brown of everywhere. I liked the landscape. The wildlife, while we mostly saw birds, was pretty cool. We saw so many sandhill cranes, and a roadrunner!

I also like the culture. I got the impression that the locals where the kind of crazy like Minnesotans are crazy. Not so much pride in and appreciation of the state as it is spite, because who else could survive there? Why do Minnesotans tough out -40 degree weather, or New Mexicans suffer through 120 degree weather? Because they can and they're not going to give in!

I also appreciate the prevalence of the Native American cultures in day-to-day life. While Minnesota has adopted some of the indigenous culture into mainstream, like wild rice and landmarks, New Mexico took it to a whole other level. The architectural style of the pueblos is extremely common in all sorts of buildings, and traditions such as a 4 day long Christmas celebration, or silver and turquoise jewelry are everyday sights.

We had a wonderful trip, and I'm glad we decided to explore the New Mexican corner of the US.

It's the Holiday Season

For most people, the holidays are pretty much over. I didn't have the opportunity to make a holiday post though, so now will have to do, while Kwanzaa and Hanukkah and New Years are still relevant.

I always say "Happy Holidays." A lot of Christian people don't like that. I am not Christian, so I really don't care that some people think I should put the "Christ in Christmas," or remember the "reason for the season" (although, really, the reason for the season is the tilt of the earth's axis causing the northern hemisphere to be at the farthest point away from the sun. Ergo, I think celebrating the winter solstice is most appropriate).

But I still celebrate Christmas. I like to celebrate the social reasons for a winter holiday: having a reason to gather with friends and family when the bitter chill of winter makes you want to be anti-social and never leave your bed; SAD prevention; the chance to eat really rich, heavy food at the best time of year to do so; being forced to acknowledge your appreciation and love for the people in your life at the time of year when you are probably crabby from the weather.

So, I celebrate with everyone, regardless of their celebration, or reasons for celebrating it. Why bicker about the details when we are all celebrating goodwill and peace? Will the card you receive in the mail be less meaningful if it's from a Mormon? Will the chocolate taste any less delicious if the chocolate-gifter is Jewish? Is the return to the daily grind after a long weekend any less painful for the atheist?

We're all children of the world, with stress and struggle. Why not wish each other well, even if we believe different things?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cherry Blossoms, an original recipe.

So, I've been trying to be more creative in my cooking by inventing something different yet recreatable. Result? Unique Christmas cookies. My best idea (at least according to my super sweet tooth) is cherry blossoms.

For 2 dozen,
1/2c butter
3/4c sugar
1t vanilla extract
1 egg
1T cherry juice (from a jar of maraschino cherries)
1c flour
1/4t salt
1/4c cocoa
2 dozen maraschino cherries

Cream butter and sugar, with mix wet ingredients.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (except cherries). Add butter mix.
Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls, and roll in sugar. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.
When you remove them from oven, push 1 cherry into each cookie.

Enjoy. A lot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Creepy Basement

In the duplex where I live, I have only been to the basement twice. The first day I moved in to see what it was like, and earlier this week to see if I could store my bike in there for the winter.

The first time I went there, I couldn't find a light switch, so I brought a flashlight and used the light from the one window. It was creepy enough that I only walked about 5 feet into the basement before I left because I didn't really care to see the rest.

This time, I knew where the light switch was, so I turned it on, and climbed down the narrow, rickety stairs, instantly realizing that my bike would never fit down them. But, I decided to check out more of the basement. It's actually kind of cool, for the most part. The walls are stone and mortar and the floor is gravel. The furnace, water heater, washtub, etc split the basement in half, but there is a big empty space on the other side of those.

I was walking in the empty room, avoiding cobwebs, when I noticed another door. The light from the bulb didn't reach past the door at all. I started toward it, when I noticed a single, withered, white rose above the door frame. I decided I should leave. Quickly.

How creepy is that? I am really curious what is in there. Could be a fancy wine cellar, with hundred year old bottles of wine. Or a root cellar, with some ancient potatoes. Or it's a tomb, with a dead body! It's probably just an empty closet area, but I am not going down there alone, in any case.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Why am I such a good cook? Spinach Quiche Recipe

I amaze myself sometimes. My experiments do not always turn out. In fact, most people would probably not like it as much as I do, but tonight was a winner.

Spinach Quiche

~1 9inch pie crust
~4 eggs
~3/4 cup heavy cream (alternatives could be half and half, cottage cheese, cream cheese, etc)
~2 cups fresh spinach, torn
~1/2 onion, chopped
~2 cloves garlic, chopped
~A spot of oil to saute onion, garlic, spinach
~1 t garlic salt
~1 t pepper
~1 t paprika
~1 t nutmeg
~1 c feta
~1 c shredded Parmesan

1) Pre-bake pie crust (generously poke lots of holes in the crust, bake at 450 f for 10 minutes, allow to cool)
2) Saute onion and garlic. Add spinach until wilted. Remove from heat, allow to cool
3) Mix eggs, cream, spices in a bowl. Add spinach mixture and cheese.
4) Stir into pre-baked crust. Foil the edges to prevent the crust from burning
5) Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Very easy. I don't know how authentic to a typical recipe this quiche is, but it is tasty!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sweet Potato Apple Pie

Omg, yum! Not the most healthy, but yum!

-2 cups of sliced apples
-1 pie crust
-1 very large sweet potato (the kind that make you blush a little when you hold it!), mashed
-1 1/4 c cream
-2 eggs
-2/3 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon (I like cinnamon, so I just dumped a few teaspoons in)
1/4 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg (again, probably dumped in closer to 1 T, because nutmeg is nummy)

-Preheat to 375
-Line the pie crust in the plate, lay the apple slices along the bottom.
-Mix the other ingredients together (it's best to do this right after the potato has been mashed), stir until smooth.
-Pour sweet potato mix over apples
-Cover the edges with tinfoil
-Bake for 45-60 minutes, until a knife poked into the center comes out clean.

I also added about a tablespoon of powdered corn starch between the crust and apples to keep it from getting soggy.

Nutrition info (including the corn starch):
Calories: 405 (eek!)
Fat: 19.5 g
Cholesterol: 107mg
Sodium: 274mg
Potassium: 307mg
Total carbs: 51g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 26.5g
Protein: 3.5g
Vitamin A: 269.5% (!!!)
Vitamin C: 20%
Calcium: 5.5%
Iron: 8.5%

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Momo the Cat

This is Momo. Her full name is Minerva, but her former name is Munchkin. She's about a year to a year and a half old. Her former family thinks she is part Oriental because of her looks and personality.

She is really friendly, and kind of a ninja. She seems to magically disappear, then reappear to cuddle, the vanishes again. If she's in a shadow, the only part I can see is her white chin. Her eyes are a beautiful green color. She also enjoys licking my earlobes, especially when I'm sleeping. Or maybe she knows I don't like it and she's training me to get up and feed her.

I'm really happy I have her.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The farm

I love the farm. It's a wonderful place full of memories and stories. We talked, and walked. Found ginseng and jack in the pulpit in the woods. Canoed while Mom swam across the lake and paddle boated. Mom mowed and I read. We scraped and primed the house. Looked at pictures from my cousins motion sensor camera and played scrabble in the grass.

Sunburned, tired, and probably going to burst out in poison ivy blisters any day now, I had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reasons I like my jobs

The dress code at Wells Fargo is a lot more lax than most other places I've worked. I can wear open-toed shoes, and skirts above the knee as long as they are appropriate, any color shirt. As long as I look nice, it's okay. No jeans or unprofessional sandals, but that's doable. Ragstock has by far the most easy-going dress code: clothing. As long as I am wearing clothes, I am following policy. I can wear shorts, jeans, t-shirts with logos on them, sandals, tank tops, etc. It's pretty cool.

Ragstock has a good employee discount. I get 50% off used clothing and 25% off new clothing. Wells Fargo team members get services and products for no or lower fees. Bill Pay, for example, normally costs money, but I get it free. It's really handy to have (because the companies that take out twice the amount and then put it back it, causing you to overdraft, now just get a check instead). Plus, insurance, a 401(k) and other benefits are nice to have.

The people at Wells Fargo are all really nice and fun. I enjoy coming to work to spend time with them. I don't know the Ragstock people as well yet, but they're all kind of hipster/indie kind of folk. They seem cool. I'm kind of square compared to all of them, but then again, I am kind of square.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Great MN Get Together

Strawberry scone and a bite of grilled cheese, a frappe from the farmers union, falafel on a stick, a bite of deep fried apple pie, vegetarian platter of middle eastern food (hummus, tabbouleh, falafel, pita chips, samosas and something in grape leaves), and chocolate covered fruit. That is my kind of fair food.

No corn dogs, cheese curds, deep fried bacon, dippin' dots or cookies were consumed.

Apparently the Girl Scouts were not at the fair yet, and I am seriously regretting the lack of Sweet Martha's.... I am such a granola.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Recipe: Quinoa Fruit Salad

Yum yum! Another recipe score!

1 c rinsed, uncooked quinoa (or ~2.5-3 c cooked)
1 c vanilla yogurt
1/4 c honey
1 T fresh mint, chopped
1 pineapple, cut into bite-size pieces
1 pint strawberries, cut into bite-size pieces
4 peaches, cut into bite-size pieces

1) Cook the quinoa
2) While it's cooking, mix together yogurt, honey and mint for the dressing.
3) Mix the quinoa into the yogurt. Add in fruits and toss.
4) Chill, then serve.

Simple, fast delicious! I made up this recipe because I imagined it would taste good. I looked for other recipes like it, but I couldn't find any. Now I just need a name for it. Quinoa reminds me of fish eggs, but that's a disgusting name for a fruit salad. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tofu Pineapple Fried Rice

It's been a while since I posted a recipe, but this one turned out so goshdarn well I had to share it. It's my first successful fried rice, so I'm pretty happy.

~1 cup pineapple chunks, preferably fresh, but you could use canned for convenience. I just ask that you reserve the juice to make a smoothie or something.
~3 T cooking oil
~3-4 c leftover rice. If making new rice, be sure to put it in the fridge for an hour or so first.
~1 package of firm tofu, cubed into 1-inch pieces
~1/4 c chopped onion (the original recipe called for 3 spring onions, but I used what onion I had)
~3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
~1 chili, finely chopped
~1 T cilantro, finely chopped
~1 egg
~1/4 c vegetable/chicken stock
~1/2 c frozen peas (can add more for healthier fried rice. I used about a cup)
~1/2 c raisins (or craisins in my case, because I didn't have raisins in the house)
~1/2 c cashews (I finally used some of those cashews, mom!)
~3 T soy sauce
~2 t curry powder
~1 T lime juice
~1/2 t sugar

~Fry the tofu in 1 T oil at some point. I multi-tasked and made the tofu while making the fried rice.
~Mix the sauce together.
1) Mix 1 T oil in with the rice, making sure it's all coated and the clumps of rice are separated.
2) Stir-fry the Onion, garlic and chili in 1 T oil for about a minute in a large frying pan/wok.
3) Push everything to the side, and scramble the egg in the empty space. Mix with the rest after it's cooked.
4) Add the peas, and add the veggie stock bit by bit as needed-may not need it all. Just when it starts to dry out, add some more.
5) Stir in the rest of the ingredients, and drizzle the sauce over everything. Do not add any more stock after this. Stir-fry everything together for 5-10 minutes, until it's reached a consistency you think you will enjoy. :)
6) Put the tofu in with it, and serve/eat!

I should have taken a picture.... Then it'd be like a real blog. Maybe I should make a video of myself cooking.

I do have nutrition facts for you, though. That's above and beyond! I'm doing B-level work, here, folks! (FYI, not the healthiest, but better than most restaurants, probably.) Disclaimer: This is with the ingredients I used. The ingredients you use will make a difference.

Calories: 400
Fat: 16g
Cholesterol: 43mg
Sodium: 756mg (could replace with low-sodium soy sauce)
Potassium: 170 mg
Carbs: 50g
Dietary Fiber: 6g
Sugar: 9g
Protein: 16.5g
Vitamin A: 10.5%
Vitamin C: 21.2%
Calcium: 8%
Iron: 15%

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Day at the Mall

MOA on a Saturday. Never again.

I endured a packed train, crowds and screaming kids for a day of job searching and buying some tops for work.

I guess it wasn't that bad. I never had to wait in very many lines. I got a few good deals and had a delicious dinner of a falafel pita (Go to the Pita Pit next time you're at the Mall! So good!) and taro bubble tea.

I applied for jobs at Pita Pit, Ragstock and H&M. I probably won't get the job at H&M because they require complete availability on Saturdays and Sundays (as the manager I spoke to told me several times) and I work every other Saturday morning at Wells Fargo. Ragstock is hiring a lot of people right now, though, so hopefully they hire me!

I also found an awesome vest at Ragstock. I love their "vintage" (used) section.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happiness is

Not a warm gun, despite what the Beatles may tell you. Although, that is relative. Some people probably really enjoy warm guns.

In any case, I think I am a very happy person. At my lowest, I am weary, but more that 90% of the time, I am content. Someone can be ruder than a toot, and I might feel a little flustered, but I am still generally happy. I am comfortable in almost every situation.

I don't really know why, though. I never try to be happy. I don't look for ways to make my life more enjoyable. But at the same time, I don't think I'm settling for something that could be better. Life is life. Some things you can control. Other things, you can't.

Not to say I don't wish things could be better. I could always use more money, for example. But I am not miserably poor, and I am really grateful for that. The only control I have over my income is how much I work, and I'm applying for a second job, and trying to glean as many hours as I can from the bank.

I really don't have any other problems in my life. I'm sure I could find some, if I looked. I should probably be lonely, but if I were lonely, I'd probably do something about it. I should want to find a significant other, but if I really wanted one, I'd try and find one.

Although I'm not sure how successful I would be. Life happens to us. We react to our situations. There's only so much we can do to make a life. I can't find an elderly rich relative out of nowhere to find more money (plus, that'd be elder abuse), and I am not so poor that I would even consider a sugar daddy (which could also be elder abuse!).

Maybe more ambition and discomfort would do me good. Might get me further towards my goals than where I am now. Or it might make me unhappy because I am not reaching them fast enough.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hmm... awkward!

So, I am not one to closet myself. I am always willing to talk the truth with whoever I am with. But today at work, it just made things awkward between a customer and I.

Trying to flirt with me, he asked me how my boyfriend feels about me working all weekend. I tell him that I don't have one. "What? What's a beautiful girl like you doing without a boyfriend?"

"Nah, I don't need one."

"You could have a lot of boyfriends!"

"Yeah, I'm sure I could. If it happens, it happens. I don't need anyone right now." I was trying to be nonchalant, trying not to flirt back, but not shutting him out, because he is a customer.

"As long as you don't want a girlfriend."

At this, I just felt awkward. "If it happens, it happens," I replied. Honest, right?

"No... Why a beautiful girl like you would want a girlfriend..." He trailed off muttering, as I finished his transaction and quickly changed the subject to something like his work.

How do I react to this? I am unsure. I am an out and proud bisexual, but this man was obviously uncomfortable by the idea, and here I am, trying to make him into a loyal customer. I hope I handled it ok.

Friday, July 22, 2011

My favorite number is 6.

What is your favorite number? Participate in this study: (Why do the British always have the coolest internet studies?)
Six is a beautiful shade of dark blue. Sometimes 6 is silvery, too. Sixes are most beautiful when they are together. 66, 666, .66. They are the ocean waves. A six is a sleeping cat.

A six makes any other number seem cooler. The quiet, pale 7 becomes a rockstar when 67, because sixes are cool and mysterious and sexy. Don't even get me started on how sexy an awkward 9 becomes when with a 6.

Yet, sixes are comforting as well, a tire swing to play in, a mothers arm holding her baby. 6 is balanced and grounded. A 6 might roll around a bit, but a six won't fall like a 7 or a 9.

Sexy six is a much better number than that ugly, old, pee-yellow 8.

This is the approximate color scheme of a 6. It's a bit more shiny that that, though. It was the closest I could find in quick google search.

This is also a good example of the color six.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Life on the West Bank - No, not that West Bank

So, I have been living by the West Bank of the UofMN for about a month and a half now, and I have to say that I really like it.

1) The proximity to everything. I can get almost anywhere in the cities in an hour or less using public transit, aside from random obscure places in St Paul. I can even get to random obscure places in the suburbs, especially if I bring my bike along. To get groceries or do laundry, I just walk or take the bus about a mile away.

2) My house is surprisingly cool, temperature-wise. Especially in this week of Minnesauna, where the world is melting unless it's in AC. I don't have AC, but my house is a good 10 degrees cooler. I can actually use a sheet at night and comfortably sleep. It's so hot outside, I actually jumped through a sprinkler on my way home from work. It took all my will power to keep my pants on.

3) My neighborhood is surprisingly quiet. Considering how high the crime rate allegedly is, how many bars are nearby, how many low-income students and immigrants live around here, I don't hear a thing, aside from a dog barking or some kids playing. I even live about 2 blocks from the freeway, and I rarely hear traffic.

4) Work is nice. It's doable and stimulating enough where I enjoy doing it. I do need a second job though, just for extra income. Maybe a restaurant will hire me for weekends, or something. I could bus tables or be a host at a restaurant or something.

5) There's room for one more! I have a lot of space that I don't use. Roommate forthcoming, at some point!

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Day on the Job

Well, today was my first day of training at Wells Fargo. I still have 2 weeks of training left, though, so we'll see how it goes when I actually start to work. :) But hey, 2 weeks of listening isn't bad.

Today was kind of information overload. I'm sure it's going to get a lot more in-depth considering we have a whole two weeks full time training, so I'll remember more of it as I rehear it.

Even though the training is kind of mind-numbing, I think the job won't be bad as long as I stay engaged and try to meet sales goals. Plus the incentives I could get are so worth the energy it takes to exceed expectations. I could get hundreds of dollars in incentives by referring people to personal bankers or using good customer service skills. Plus the benefits rock. 18 days PTO? Hope the benefits on paper are as good in real life.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Settling In

Well, I've just about settled into my new home. I just need some more furniture, like a bookshelf, more seating in the living room, something to put in my dining room, and maybe a TV stand or an end table. Most of these things, I can get for free at my mom's house, once I clean them out of my bedroom. None of my furniture will match, but I can just get matching furniture one day when I'm rich and buy a fancy condo or house custom-designed for me. :)

So far in my living room I have a bright purple rug, a bright red coffee table, a sage green couch, a purple bookshelf and a black table. And a pink flamingo. Blue curtains on one window and a rainbow sarong pinned up to the other window. See what I mean about not matching?

Anyway, I like the place. It's close to a lot of public transportation, which I like. I can take the light rail to work, downtown, the mall, or even all the way to my hometown.

Now all I need is a roommate. And a pet (other than the hamster and fish, because they're only temporary until August comes). I kinda like having my own place, but it's cheaper, safer and less anti-social to have one. Come January, I will probably go stir-crazy if I don't have someone to live with. Luckily, the U and Augsburg are literally within walking distance (I can even see them from the corner!), so finding a roommate probably won't be too hard.

PS: My basement is sketchy as all get out. Maybe I could clean it up and use it for something...

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I graduate in 15 hours. I think that's pretty nifty. All the more so that I am finally getting to do one of the big life steps before my older brother (who decided to join the military and be a hero/awesome guy instead, and is graduating only 1 year after me.... but that's beside the point!). It's strange to think that after four long/short years, and another 13 years in public school before this, I finally am finished with formal education (unless, of course, I decide to go to graduate school).

I get to wear a cool teal honor cord for Sociology/Anthropology, too. I mean, I'm sure there will be a lot of people with cords, and even the same cord as me, but I didn't think I'd get one, so I'm pleased. I also got a women's studies pin, but all senior majors did (all the same, that's like 7 of us out of 696 so it's still pretty cool).

I'm mostly glad to be leaving. I feel like St. Olaf wants me to enjoy St. Olaf they way they want me to. The things I am supposed to appreciate are not the things I actually appreciate. Not a huge fan of the choir, or God, or being Norwegian, or the extensive legacy my family has at St. Olaf (none of which apply to me...), like a good little Ole should.

Instead, I appreciate the people who work in the caf, who all signed cards for the supervisors. I appreciate the beauty of campus, despite the artificial landscaping that happens right before people with money come to campus. I appreciate the professors who actually know the students. I appreciate the activism at St. Olaf, whether that's volunteerism or student organizations, especially when it's not handed to them on a platter by SGA or the church. I appreciate the diversity at St. Olaf, especially the student body, because it seems that once we graduate, only the white, straight Lutheran Norwegians with money get asked to come back and be a part of the campus life. Maybe that will change with increasing diversity of the students, but it still pisses me off now.

Overall, I love Olaf. I love the Olaf I know, not the Olaf they want to present to alumni. I really don't like that Olaf. It's not the Olaf I have seen or experienced.

But, graduation! Yay!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Awesome Day

Today was a good day. I got a job with Wells Fargo, which isn't the best job, but it pays well, promotes well, and gives me free time to volunteer to fight the Marriage Amendment!

And, I applied to live in an awesome duplex in Cedar Riverside. I will probably get it. There is someone else who wants to upgrade to that duplex, but I applied before her so I will likely get it.

Yay! I have a future!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Odd to think

In 9 days, I graduate from college. It's strange to think about it. I've already finished two of my finals, so I am officially a Women's Studies and Sociology/Anthropology major. Now I only have to turn in two more assignments, and I will have a Political Science major as well.

I am going to apply to live in a duplex in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. I went to visit it yesterday. They are renovating the kitchen and bathroom, and replacing the carpet and refinishing the floors, so it looks a hot mess right now, but it's a lot of space and near the light rail and several bus lines, with a park in the backyard and they said I can garden if I want to!

It's strange to think that "real life" is going to happen soon. I hope it goes all right. I'm sure it will!

Friday, May 6, 2011


So last month I applied for distinction in the women's studies department. I didn't get it, but they did award me the Viola Rossing Prize instead, which is a $100 award for exemplary work in the Women's Studies department.

While it isn't distinction, a $100 prize is not a bad thing to win!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Something I will miss after graduation.

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.

They are so good! I can't get over it! I have memorized the schedule for when they're available in the Cage (2pm every Mon, Wed, Fri), to the point where I know that they will be gone by 2:45 because everyone loves them.

It's gotten to the point where they don't put them on their own platter any more. They just put them all in bags because the line starts at 1:50 for them.

They're so delicious and they feel (remember the synesthesia post) amazing! They feel like cornbread batter (not to most people) and taste like heaven. Light and chunky and sweet with a hint of banana (because they're vegan).

These cookies cannot be beat. They're the absolute best cookies I have ever eaten.

Monday, May 2, 2011


The BECAUSE conference was this weekend. It's a MN conference about Bi/Pan/Queer/Trans/Genderqueer/Poly issues. It was a lot of fun, and exciting to see all the queers who care about bi issues and not just gay and lesbian issues.

Instead of talking about all the amazing workshops and speakers I attended (which I could go on and on about), here are 8 ways to be a Bi-Ally, from the Bisexual Resource Center in Boston.

1) Believe that I exist. Despite ongoing scientific research that seems so determined to disprove the existence of bisexuality plus the general lack of interest by the greater gay and lesbian community in acknowledging us, we really do exist.

2) When I tell you I'm bisexual, please don't try to talk me into redefining my identity into something more comfortable for you. Please don't tell me that if I haven't been sexual with more than one sex in the last three, five, or ten years that I am no longer bisexual.

3) Celebrate bisexual culture along with me. We have a vibrant and rich cultural history within the bi community. Not only do we have fabulous examples of cultural communities that accepted and practiced bisexual living/loving--Bloomsbury Group, Greenwich Village, Harlem Renaissance--but from Sappho to Walt Whitman to Virginia Woolf to James Baldwin to June Jordan, we have many daring voices that have expressed love beyond the monosexual confines.

4) Please don't try to convince me that people who lived bisexual lives in the past would have been gay if they had lived today. You don't know that, I don't know that, and your insistence that it is true says that you believe that people were bisexual only out of necessity, not by desire. I believe there have always been bisexual people just as you may believe there have always been gay and lesbian people.

5) Validate my frustration with the gay and lesbian community when they ignore or exclude bisexuals. Please don't try and defend an action such as a keynote speaker who is addressing a GLBT audience but consistently says "gay and lesbian" when referring to all of us. It bothers me, so even if you don't think it's that important yourself, please don't try and talk me out of my feelings.

6) Ask me, if appropriate, about my other-sex relationships and my same-sex relationships. Bisexuals live our lives in multiple ways. Some of us are monogamous and we would like to discuss that relationship openly with the people in our lives, no matter whom it is with. Some of us have more than one relationship going on and we'd like to be able to share that with others without feeling judgment.

7) If there is some sort of bisexual scandal in the news, don't use it as an opportunity to make derisive remarks about bisexuals generally. As we know, all communities have examples of "bad behavior," and painting everyone with the same brush doesn't create much understanding between us.

8) When I'm not around, or any other bisexual, speak up when bisexual people are being defamed or excluded. It's great when we can witness your support, but I'd love to know you are helping us even when we are not looking. You'll be the best ally possible!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I have synesthesia. Synesthesia, according to the greatest resource of all time (wikipedia), "is a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway."

For me, this means several different things. When I see numbers and letters, a color is strongly associated with them. An "A" for example, is a violet red, but with only a hint of the violet. I took a test by bbc and they gave certain colors options, and I couldn't find the color that most of the letters should be, so I was really frustrated. I might make an alphabet with all the right colors, because I get really annoyed with pictures or magnets with the wrong colors.

Some are more acceptable than others. An orange 5 is more acceptable than a blue 5, even though it really is yellow. I get really annoyed at blue As. I'm used to all of them being black, but sometimes I see the colors anyway, even if they are in black.

I also feel tastes. This one is the funnest, but hardest to articulate. How do you explain that cows milk tastes like a log on your molars but soy milk tastes like dipping your toe in a bath on the tip of your tongue? Or that cucumbers taste like a sharp wave on your upper gums but celery tastes like a firework on your tongue?

Most people look at my like I'm crazy but some people get it. To one of my friends, a certain soup tastes green but it should taste brown. Not everything has a strong feel to it. Chocolate, for example, feels like chocolate melting over my whole mouth. Popcorn feels vaguely like a glacier along my inner gums, but mostly I just taste the flavor of popcorn. Not so remarkable. Interestingly, tomatoes feel the same as chocolate but back farther in my mouth.

I taste the flavors too, and I can ignore the feeling just as much as I can ignore the flavor. The feel of vodka, for example, is fairly pleasant even though the taste is awful. Gin feels and tastes awful. It feels like there's a thin rubber layer inside my mouth and it's being pulled out from the back, inverting on itself.

Lastly, I can somewhat feel sounds. Like, I can feel a tingle along my middle back when I hear a violin playing, or a tingle in my upper abdomen when I hear a tuba. Usually it's more the tones and notes I hear than the instrument, but certain instruments I feel more strongly than others. People's voices do it, too. I have a professor whose voice tingles my lower ribs, and another who tingles my collarbone. I am not sure why, and usually my own pre-existing opinions determines if I like the feeling or not. For example, the upper abdomen tuba-induced tingling is usually because when there's tense music playing, I don't really feel happy (during a movie, for example), so that tingling usually makes me feel anxious, even when it's happy polka music.

Anyway, that is how synesthesia works in my body. I'm sure it's different for many people, and it will probably change over my lifetime. I remember when I was a kid, I would see the words that people said aloud, like it was typed in a book, but that doesn't happen anymore. Won't it be fun when the dementia starts when I'm old? Who knows what happens then?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Righteous Dopefiend

I am usually not profoundly impacted by most of the books I read for school. Some of them have made an impact (like The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, or Mountains Beyond Mountains) in how I understand the world and how I want to interact with it. The book Righteous Dopefiend is one of those books.

It's an honest photo-ethnography of homeless heroin addicts in San Francisco. What I have taken away from it the most is the fact that I/we ignore people whose lives are truly miserable by rolling up the windows when we drive by the homeless guy on the side of the road and looking at everything except the beggar on the sidewalk. How cruel are we?

Ethics and the Righteous Lumpen

We share so much of our society with our lumpen dopefiends than we care to admit. We live in the same cities, we have the same people in powerful positions making decisions and we share many of the same norms and structures. We went to the same schools, joined the same military (or at least claimed we did), and use the same hospitals when we're ill. While homeless drug addicts are invisible and ignored by everyone but each other, we cannot ignore the fact that we are completely intertwined with them. If they had had a different situation as a child, or made different choices, they wouldn't be one of “them,” they would be us.

However, are they so similar to us? Their addiction to heroin is the most important thing in their lives. Bourgois and Schonberg claim that the righteous dopefiends have sacrificed everything in order to satisfy their heroin addiction. Getting their heroin fix is more important than keeping a job, their family, their social status and even their dignity. They have given up our morals and norms and placed themselves outside of society. They are lumpen because society does not consider them to be worth inclusion. This group of social flotsam is considered to be the lowest of the low who have given up our moral standards.

But have they? Despite their rejection from social norms and morals, they also strive to achieve the “good life.” Tina and Carter make a home together, for example. Many of them try to prove they're not as bad as the others (for example, Tina doesn't consider herself a prostitute, the black heroin addicts do not skin pop, others claim they were veterans) and they have justification for their actions. They don't want to be like this, so they create separate bedrooms in their camps and make promises about “when they're sober.” They create a “good life” through finding a running partner, someone with whom they share their belongings, who they can take care of and who can take care of them. They are not part of society, but they maintain the norms of social lives within their lumpen group. They do not have to conform to the norms and morals of America, but they make attempts to still participate.

How alike are mainstream Americans and those who are excluded from it? In our behavior, we are alike. The norms of family and sharing and racialized behavior are still prevalent in the dopefiend camps. However, when it comes down to thin morality and values, the drug addicts have replaced their morality with addiction. When there is room for other norms and values, they follow them. But even Sonny skin pops when he cannot find a vein, and Tina will sell her sex for drugs. Taboos are easily broken, and morals set aside in order to avoid being dopesick. Unlike Stephen's idea that we are morally alike in thin ways and when we put them into practice, the thick morals are different, it seems as if with the lumpen, the reverse is true. Our behavior is similar in our strive for the “good life,” but what is morally good is different. For them, good is avoiding dopesickness at any cost. For us, while we avoid human suffering, we can still drive by or walk past without being moved to help them. We have other values and morals that take precedence over helping people avoid becoming dopesick.

In fact, we do not even pity those who are dopesick. We hope that by being dopesick in their jail cell, they'll be able to kick the habit. We take hope in their suffering, because we see their suffering as a consequence of their choices. Do they deserve this forced suffering? What do they deserve from mainstream Americans, who have the power in the relationship? With our value of easing human suffering, it would seem logical that they deserve medical care to ease the side effects of addiction, such as treatment of abscesses, or even small doses of medicine while in jail. However, they do not receive it. Furthermore, their shelter is repeatedly taken from them because we have decided that people should not live under overpasses, making them exposed and without a home. As fellow humans, they deserve dignity, but we do not give it to them. They partially take it away from themselves, as a result of the dopesickness and poor cleanliness habits. However, when we pretend they don't exist or ignore them, we take away their dignity and humanity. When we treat them as things that don't even deserve to be in the hospital, we rob them of what dignity they have left.

This raises the question: if avoidance of suffering is truly part of our morals, why don't we help them? Why do we drive by? Why do we look at everything but the face of the man who is asking for money downtown? Why do the police clean up their camps, as if taking away their home will make them disappear, as well? Why do the doctors in the hospital take all day before helping the man with maggots in his leg? Perhaps because we see it as hopeless for us to try to ease their suffering. Perhaps it is because we see them as choosing to suffer. Perhaps this suffering isn't easily fixed by a donation or a race, the way a cleft palate or cancer supposedly is. We don't donate our Facebook statuses to homeless dopefiends. How do we help to alleviate their suffering? The only easy solution is to ignore the problem. If we consider these homeless drug users to be choosing their own fate, to be outside of our concern, we are allowed to ignore them.

Our treatment of homeless addicts raises the issues of choice. What role does choice play in all of this? Did they actually make the choice to use drugs in the first place? There are many other factors involved in drug use besides the individuals decision to inject heroin. The presence of drugs in their life, whether or not other people in their life use drugs, how they've been taught to cope with adversity, their class, their family life, etc all go in to someones likelihood of using drugs. If someone has so many social factors stacked up against them, it becomes less of a choice to use drugs and more of a choice to not use drugs.

Similarly, do we actively make the choice to ignore and judge them? Rarely are homeless heroin addicts portrayed in the media except as a social problem. Few people in society help or talk to the panhandlers who may or may not be drug users (but we assume they probably are). We're taught to avoid them and stop staring when we're young children, and our parents roll up the windows and lock the doors when there's a homeless person begging on the side of the highway. Is it any surprise that we ignore them?

How can we learn from Righteous Dopefiend? How do we judge them with this new awareness of the issues surrounding homelessness and drug addiction? Do we even have the right to judge them, knowing their moral standards are different from our own? Should we judge them for their choices in lifestyle, even if it's not a complete choice? Furthermore, how do we judge ourselves when we see ourselves doing nothing? This book leaves more questions than answers, not only about the dopefiends, but also about ourselves and our understanding of morality.

What dichotomy?

People always talk about the mind as something separate from the body. I disagree. Your body includes your mind, and your mind wouldn't be anything without your body. They're both necessary, intertwined, interdependent parts of You. Everything that you do with your mind has effects on your body, and vice versa.

Tired? You're probably crabby, too. Stressed? Wow, look at that zit. Sad? There isn't enough sleep in the world for you when you feel sad.

In any case, I am stressed. How do I know? I am crabby, tired, breaking out and bloated. Almost sounds like it's that time of the month, but it's not. Trust me. The feeling of being overwhelmed has been, well, overwhelming me lately. And it's taking a toll on my physical well-being. Adrenaline has been almost non-stop and the exhaustion has been unavoidable. My body is saying "Calm down!"

Then there's the inevitability of it. I will never not be stressed. I may not have 6 papers to write, and post-graduation stability to find, but I will always need to worry and stress about things. Money, family, careers, etc. It will never stop. Even when I'm retired, how will I pay for my prescriptions? Will I be lonely?

Aw, dang. Anyway, time to get back to my paper that's due soon...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day of Silence and Ra Ra Riot!

My Day of Silence was pretty awesome. We did a freeze during chapel time for 5 minutes. We planned out strategically where we were going to stand. I froze holding a door open for Phil who froze partway through it.

The girl stopped behind him, waiting. She waited like, 30 seconds before she realized neither of us were moving and went through another door. There were also a lot of visitors today. The Regents were on campus and there was an Economic Summit so there were a lot of smart-looking business types there. Also, it's an Accepted Students weekend. Good times.

My first professor was really supportive ("everybody ok? Catey? Thumbs up!"), and my classes. The other professor just said "ok." But he didn't make me talk, so that's cool.

This evening, we hosted the Night of Noise at our house. We had about 30 students and one Townie. She was a sweet middle-aged woman. It was fun.

The fun part of the night was Ra Ra Riot. The music was good. The crowd was really awkward, though. You know how when there's someone in the crowd who is way more into the music than the rest of the crowd is? (if you don't, you're probably that guy who is premature). There were 10 of them, humping the stage and awkwardly waving their hands in the air. Eventually the rest of the crowd got there, too, but then they got even more into it and one even tried to grab the singer.

In other news, they're all really attractive. Especially the cellist and bassist (story of my life!). Now if only they didn't dress like 12 year olds trying on their parent's clothes from the 80s.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

OutFront and Day of Silence

Today, several other students and I went to St. Paul for OutFront Minnesota JustFair Lobby Day. It's a day where pro-LGBTQ supporters go to the state Capitol and make appointments with their state senators and representatives and ask that they support LGBTQ people in Minnesota.

It's so much fun! I love going there and seeing everyone and even meeting with my absolutely unsupportive legislators. Also, really weird legislators. My lobby coach was, who is a regular at the capitol, was wearing pigtails, and my representative pulled one of them. Considering she is a city councilwoman, that is extremely inappropriate and unprofessional. She was really creeped out, and tweeted about it right away. She is not a professional politician, she says. He is really good at avoiding topics, too. And interrupting people.

My senator was better this year than last year. Although we pulled him out of council, so we had to be brief. Last year he talked about how his faith dictates how he has to act. This year, he just talked about how he thinks government should stay out of everything (note, he isn't introducing any bills to get government out of marriage)(another note: he alluded to the fact that his party won't let him introduce any bills at all, so maybe he would if he could)(another note: but he did say he would support government banning same-sex marriage outright, so that's not really government staying out of it. it's banning one type of marriage while actively supporting another). He also got hit by a car a few days ago... he seemed to be okay, though.

And, despite the snow at the outdoor rally, it was just a really awesome day!

Tomorrow will be awesome too. It's the Day of Silence! :D

I'll write more about that tomorrow, though, after I experience it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?

The Vagina Monologues. So far, 2 sold-out shows at St. Olaf, with a third performance tomorrow. Pretty successful! I love the Vagina Monologues. I don't identify that much with my reproductive organs, but I love my vulva.

Mine would wear a blanket. A warm fleece tie-blanket.

The Vagina Monologues have been very influential in my life. This is the fourth year I've seen them, and for the fourth year, I have laughed and cried and thought about and identified with the monologues. "My Angry Vagina" and "The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy" are two of my favorite funny monologues. Cold mean duck lips, dry wads of fucking cotton and the surprise triple orgasm get the whole audience laughing. Others, like "My Vagina Was My Village" and "Memory of Her Face" bring me to tears to think of the pain that women experience because of they are women.

Others, like "The Flood" and "The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could" make me so thoughtful. These poor women have/had oppressed any comfort or identification with their down there's and coochie snorchers. Our vaginas are a part of us. What has to happen for you to only associate your coochie snorcher with pain and misery and humiliation? And even more perplexing, how did more abuse save your coochie snorcher and help it become a source of pleasure? Probably, my favorite one is "Hair." Hair is about a woman whose husband made her shave her vulva, and cheated on her when she wouldn't. Why would shaving your vag to make yourself look like a 10 year old be a turn-on? Hair is there because it hasn't lost it's evolutionary purpose yet. Being sanitary is important, but having hair isn't unsanitary. I don't need to shave my vag. It and I are just as happy and healthy with hair as without it.

In any case, if you haven't seen the Vagina Monologues, I suggest you see it. It's a wonderful play, and all proceeds help end violence against women (money is donated to local organizations depending on where you see it).

Monday, March 28, 2011

MSS St. Louis

Well, spring break came and went. After a weekend at my mom's house (and beating the pants off of her in scrabble), and a few days bumming around my house at school (and beating the pants off one of my housemates in scrabble, playing a LOT of pokemon white, and watching a couple seasons of LOST), I went with 6 fellow students and professor to St. Louis for a sociology conference.

I had a lot of fun! The ten hour drive through Iowa was kind of boring, but I couldn't sleep. A few of us just talked and I played more Pokemon. We stayed at the Millennium Hotel right downtown, a couple blocks from the hotel the conference was in. It snowed almost the whole time, so the short walk was really cold and uncomfortable. Our hotel was being used by the National Conference of Black Engineers, so it was fun to see all the southern kids who hadn't seen snow very much if at all.

The conference itself was cool. I stayed in my women's studies comfort zone and went to sessions that focused on gender and sexuality issues. Topics ranged from the feelings of loss of transmen and their partners to rural lesbian identity frames. It was really interesting to see what everyone was researching. There were hundreds of sessions with 3 or 4 papers discussed in each session. Crazy to see how many sociologists are studying in the Midwest.

Our own presentation was good. Not well attended, but we did well. Our small audience turned into a really interesting discussion of what students need out of sociology programs, classes and teachers. Probably haven't mentioned it here yet, but we studied how students feel about the post-graduation planning process. We found that the earlier students begin planning, they also have higher levels of self-efficacy (confidence they'll be able to achieve their post-college career goals) and most positive attitudes (less anxious, more excited). Other groups studied transferable skills, social networks, career resource use, etc. We focused on attitudes, beliefs and plans.

Now, it's back to school. 2 months before I graduate! Ahh! So excited! Now I just have to find a place to live and work and time to finish everything I need to finish by then.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I hate being on time. I need to be early. Why didn't I do anything last week? Why did I only turn in my distinction application a day before it was due? Why can't I set deadlines for myself?

Sleep, for example. I finished my homework (due tomorrow!) at 11:40. "Great!" I thought, "I can be asleep by 12. It's good. I've been shorting myself on sleep lately."

It's now 12:45. *facepalm* Am I just magically incapable of closing my laptop if I don't have someone else to be accountable to? I do need to be able to do my assignment tomorrow (due friday!) which will require a lot of thinking, considering I haven't started it yet.

Spring break is soon. That'll be a good time to work on self-regulating deadlines. Especially since I'm starting my Pokemon White on Friday afternoon, and I have to read a book and write a review over break, as well as practice my speech for the conference where I'm presenting in a week, and work on Vagina Monologues planning, Day of Silence planning, MN AIDS Walk planning, transcribe another interview, write a couple interview analyses and work on my curriculum for my women's studies seminar. Oh, and find a job and a place to live and people to live with after graduation...

It'll be good practice. I'll probably bring homework with me to St. Louis as well. I'll give myself this weekend to have Spring Break, then get started.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Help Save Planned Parenthood

I recently watched this video: by Wesleyan students in support of Planned Parenthood.

I love it! I love Planned Parenthood and I am so sad/mad/irritated that their small funding pie (none of which actually goes to abortion services) is being cut, while the Air Force gets to keep their NASCAR advertising. While the richest of the rich get more tax breaks. While huge corporations threaten to take even more jobs overseas if they don't get more tax breaks.

Maybe we should just let them leave! Let's start buying in companies that won't hold our deficit hostage if they don't get even more of our money. Buy local. Buy smart! Support the companies that support you! I'm not the biggest Lady Gaga fan in the world, but what she did this week was powerful! Imagine if everyone did that!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

2D Theory

I have been given the most difficult assignment of my life thus far. I am to analyze the last three books we've read in my soc/antho seminar by creating an annotated map. The books have been A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid, Cosmopolitanism by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Remotely Global by Charles Piot. All relate to colonialism somehow, but all are very different books. Kincaid's book is about the small island of Antigua, how the British slavers and now tourists have fucked it up and should stay home. Appiah's book is a philosophy book that uses stories about Ghana/England to show there are universal values. Piot's book is an ethnography of the Kabre in Togo, particularly their relational social structures and gift-giving practices.

How exactly am I supposed to map this? I am not particularly artistic nor creative. I think I'm just going to put little pictures of the countries, and lines to show what is moving between the countries (people, ideas, identity, money), and annotate to tell exactly what that means (ex: Antiguan identity was shaped by England to be oppressed and enslaved, whereas Antigua helped shape England's identity as a colonizer and master, roles which are still continued in todays tourism models). Not the most beautiful or profound, but it beats writing a paper. :)


Well, back in the swing of things. Meeting, meeting, class, meeting, work, meeting, class, work, work, cram homework in before I can't think anymore. I enjoy it, but I just wish I had extended periods of downtime. I look forward to the weekends because I'll actually have enough time to get my homework done, and maybe pick up an extra shift of work.

At least since I quit my third job, I actually have time for homework on the weekends! I wonder if this is something that I do to myself, or if I'll actually have time to do things like make a fancy dinner on the weekday, or just hang out at a friends house on the weekends after I graduate. I'll probably over-commit myself, but will I have time to not have to work? I like being busy, but I also like watching TV and playing video games, too. Hopefully, college is just a place where there are so many opportunities to do things that I can't stop, and it'll calm down when I'm not on every mailing list or see every opportunity on a poster by the post office.

In other news, here's a picture of me from Thailand that the photographer on the trip took. She's wonderful! Alyssa Lund Photography!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's the Final Countdown!

So, final semester has started. I'm really excited. I'm taking 3 senior seminars and a history of political theory class. My polisci seminar is a seminar on immigration and citizenship, and we'll be interviewing the immigrant population in a nearby city. My soc/anthro seminar isn't focusing on something in particular, but is synthesizes a lot of the themes from the soc/anthro major. My third class is a history of modern political thought, which covers a lot of writers like Machiavelli and Locke. My other class is a Women's Studies seminar. We get to choose the topics, and have to choose readings and discuss them as a class. Should be fun.

I'm also really excited to graduate. No jobs found yet, but I'm done writing papers and reading obnoxiously long books and dense academic short papers.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Upon Returning

Well, I landed around 11am the day before yesterday. The flight home was surprisingly short, with only 20 hours of travel, as opposed to 36 hours on the way there. The food was worse, but I finally finished watching 3 Idiots, the movie I tried to watch several times on the way to Bangkok from Tokyo. We even had time to breathe in Tokyo airport, but not enough time to look around. A couple students changed money to buy a bottle of water. Or what looked like a can of lemon sparkling water, which turned out to be beer. Good times.

Anyway, after I landed at 11am, I went to my dads house (Mom was still in Ecuador, so Dad picked me up). He brought me out to lunch, then back to his house. I tried to stay up, but I decided to take an hour nap around 2:30. I woke up around 11:30pm, and played around on the internet until 4:30, when I went back to bed. I couldn't sleep past 8, though, and decided to just have a long day. I gave Dad and his wife their souvenirs, then Dad brought me to Mom's house, where she had just returned from her trip.

After exchanging pictures and souvenirs, we had dinner with my brother, and I went to bed at 7ish. I woke up around 2:30, but stayed in bed until 5:30, then gave up trying to sleep. My body is very confused. I'm used to the opposite time of day and the opposite season (err, rather, what I know feels like the opposite season, but is actually winter).

All my pics are in the process of uploading to facebook, so you can view them there. You can even see pics of me that other people took. Like me on an elephant!

Abroad Trip Day 24 - Last day...

Today is our last day in Thailand. Sad! I don't want to leave Thailand. I want to travel around to different cities and get out of Bangkok. I feel so anxious in Bangkok because it's always crowded and busy and takes forever to get anywhere. Ah well, Sabai Sabai!

We get up early this morning to go to the Floating Market, which is about an hour and a half out of Bangkok. It's like other markets, only the stalls are boats, and we're in boats and the vendors hook us with poles and pull us in to their boats. I like markets, but they all sell the same things, and when you don't have the option to walk away, it gets a little irritating to keep saying no and ignoring the vendor til your boatman starts paddling more. It was fun once we got to walk around, though. I bought a tacky hat/fan and a pretty green tunic shirt, which is probably a dress on Thai people. Too Tall for Thailand!

After, we ate lunch at a fancy hotel, where we were reunited with Julia, our classmate who has been in the hospital with pneumonia for a few days. One of the waiters was the Thai version of Neil Patrick Harris. I should have taken a picture. We debriefed as a class, and one person did the last presentation (the partner of Julia, who did a presentation for Ryan at the hospital instead, because we weren't sure she'd be out before everyone else left). Then we went to MBK, the giant shopping mall of Bangkok. It's not so great. Too much stuff to be able to enjoy it. Not many people from our class bought anything there. There are 7 floors, and each store has the same products as all the other stores on the floor. I don't know how they stay in business.

Then the group of 4 I was with grabbed the water taxi home. The water taxis have stops at different places along the river and canals, and you just wait on the side of the dock in the direction you want to go until the boat comes along. Then you climb in the boat, which was holding a couple dozen people, and a ticket lady walks around the outside of the boat on a small ledge (about 4 inches), and gives you a ticket for however much baht that taxi costs (9baht in this case). It's pretty fun. It's like a boatbus. We got out on the last stop, which is closest to our hotel, but is also in a super busy intersection with about 8 different roads coming into it, in a confusing area of Bangkok (aren't all areas of Bangkok confusing?). Hence, we got lost. Crossed a lot of roads, walked a lot. Finally, we gave in and got a tuktuk to bring us home. We paid 100baht to go about 6 blocks. However, they were 6 blocks we never would have thought to walk. We would have wandered for hours, lost, asking people for directions and getting different advice each time.

Anyway, we went to dinner at 6pm. We ate on a tourist dinner boat, with a dance show. Similar to the Lanna dinner when we left Chiang Mai, we got a show of traditional Thai dance and music. The food was as good and yet also as odd as the Lanna dinner. The boat trip was very nice though, and we had a good time. Dessert was fruit (pineapple, papaya and roseapple, which is delicious and you should try some if you can find it in the states) and traditional Thai dessert, which were all these gummy jelly things, and a prune, served in individual banana leaf bowls. Oddest things, but they tasted good.

When we got back, I went to get my finished suits. They look awesome, and I got 2 custom-tailored suits for 4000baht, or approximately $135 dollars. The jackets look best. I never look good in jackets, because my body type is too boyish for women's jackets, and men's jackets aren't fitted enough for me. I look great! Especially with my new haircut. I was also videotaped and photographed for their promotional material because I won their special promotion. Also, they included the garmet bag, which means I also have something in which to carry my winter coat! Thanks, komodo dragons! I appreciate the fortune you've brought me!

Now, since we leave for the airport at 3am, I'm going to go let fish eat my feet, maybe get a facial or something, and drink lots of coffee so I can sleep on the second flight and get a normal Minnesotan time sleep. I'll allow myself to sleep in 11 or 12hours, even though I've been up for 17 already today. I would rather get over jetlag fairly quickly.

Overall, I'm really glad I came to Thailand, and I am sad to be leaving, but I want to come back one day, and spend some time in other regions of Thailand and Asia.

Abroad Trip Day 23

Today was our second free day! I organized a trip to the beach (about 2 hours away) for 16 of us. Unfortunately, one is in the hospital with pneumonia, so only 15 of us went. It was so nice to go to the beach, though. The sun was hot, the breeze was cool and the water was like bathwater. We decided we were done with crazy tourist locations, so we went to the “locals” beach called Cha-am. More farang were on the beach than locals, but it was still much less crowded and fewer vendors. Lovely day overall, with a nice lunch of chicken burger with pineapple and a pineapple smoothie. Yum!

When we got back, I showered quickly, and then went to get adjustments on my custom-tailored suits. Hoorah! Now it's on to paper-writing. Boo...

Abroad Trip Day 22

Today we went on a touristy day with Tony, our tour guide. We left early in the morning, and started off the day at a meditation center. We pull up to the curb, and step out into this wonderland just outside of Bangkok. The meditation center is also a nunnery. No monks, only nuns. They're so cute with their shaved heads and white robes. Also, they are much nicer than the monk at the meditation center we went to before. Their garden is walled in, but you can hear the sounds of traffic and construction amid the sounds of fountains and birds. There was no large Buddha statue. Instead, a pagoda with a relic inside was in the center of the room, with circles of flowers surrounding it. Much less imposing when we're all in a circle, instead of facing the monk at the head of the room with a huge Buddha behind him. We did a quick prayer, then went outside for 10 minutes of meditation before the nun arrived. The nunnery was founded in 1988, and provides parenting classes to pregnant women and families (including single-parent families), in addition to the meditation retreats it offers. I wish we had done our meditation retreat there. Ah well. The nun we spoke to mostly translated Thai through Tony and her novice, but she could speak English a little, and was fluent in Hmong. She actually was Hmong, and was glad to talk to our Hmong-American students on the trip. We then took a tour of the center grounds. It is so peaceful and open, yet removed from the busy city. There were ponds and statues and winding forest paths, and new construction of a waterfall into the irrigation ditch, so it would be more part of nature.

After, she gave us books and sent us on our way to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was the old capital of Thailand until the early 1700s, when Burma invaded for the second time and destroyed most of the city. The ruins of the royal wats are still there, and that's what we went to see. The temple grounds are so extensive, and we could wander for an hour and not see the same place twice. The pagodas are mostly opened because they would place a persons valuables in them with their ashes when they died, so grave robbers have opened them and taken the gold, etc. Also, all of the Buddha statues (hundreds of them), are missing their heads. All of the gold has been removed, and the heads cut off to sell. Bad karma for the cutter, but lots of money, too. There is an iconic image of the head of a Buddha that has been absorbed by the roots of the bodhi tree, and the body disappeared. It was pretty cool to see. Almost as if the holy tree were retaining at least one head for the temple, when the rest were cut off and sold on the black market.

We then went to the Summer Palace, near Ayutthaya. This is where the royal family goes for the summer (thanks, Captian Obvious), and was the royal palace of the old Thai kingdom. There are many ponds there, and it's near a river, so it's easy to see why they go there in the summer. Natural air conditioning! Anyway, we took farang pictures with bushes shaped like animals, and walked around the grounds. We noticed a large reptile on the edge of a pond. Is that a baby crocodile? Then it turned to look at us. A komodo dragon! Cool! We then saw another and another, all in or around the ponds. We ran into Tony, who told us they had moved in and no one removed them. They used to be bad luck to see, but it changed when they were found on the palace grounds to mean fortune and wealth. I guess a cultural construct is easier to change than it would be to remove a dozen komodo dragons. He also told us they were wild and dangerous and we should keep our distance if we saw more. We then turned around the building we were near only to see three of our classmates about two feet from one of the dragons. One was trying to pet it. It was tasting the air. “Anna! Get back!” They didn't hear us. Finally, Katrina yells “Anna! Those are wild and dangerous!” They scurried back to the path quickly. You should youtube videos of komodo dragons hunting. Scary stuff!

Anyway, when we got back to the hotel, I noticed the tailor shop in the lobby was having their grand opening party. So, I go in and enter my name in the drawing for a free suit. I also tell everyone else in my class about it. Guess who won the free custom-made suit? I did! Guess the komodo dragon paid off, after all. I can pick it up tomorrow night! I also bought another one, because it's 4000baht, so $135 or so for a custom-made business suit. I was going to get one made anyway! One is black, and the other is grey pinstripe. It'll look great!

Abroad Trip Day 21

Early morning wake up today at 6:30, then breakfast at the buffet. I had french toast, pancakes, eggs, fruit, cereal with yogurt and fruit and coffee. Very nummy! We met up with Tony again and he brought us to a very touristy wat with a giant reclining Buddha. Then he brought us to another temple with an Emerald Buddha (it's actually jade, but the only jade I could see was on his face, because he was wearing winter clothes). Then we went to the royal palace. So touristy and gold and shiny and crowded and hot. Not the funnest morning.

After, we went to Thamassan University, where there was a massacre of over a hundred students by the military and police because the students were holding a peaceful protest for democracy in 1976. That was more interesting, and we were only there because Ryan asked Tony to take us there instead of more wats. We are so wat-ed out. No more monks, no more offerings, no more blessings, no more gold leaf, please.

After we returned, we got lunch (street pad thai), and then had the other half of the presentations for 4 hours. Again, kind of a long time to do presentations, but it was okay overall. Then some of us desperately tried to escape the tourist bubble by going to a less touristed area. However, we could not find a tuktuk cheap enough nor a taxi willing to use the meter. So we walked around Khao San Road again. Crowded, whorish, farang kinok and gross.

I got a hair cut, though! Super short! I'm very excited for it. It'll look better in MN when it will grow out a bit and not be as humid.

Abroad Trip Day 20 - Bangkok!

Today was our first day in Bangkok! So far, I miss Chiang Mai. It's so different. Bangkok is dirty, hot, and touristy. There are “massage parlors” everywhere, tattoo parlors everywhere, “ping pong” shows (involves ping pong balls and ladies with talented pelvic muscles), and dozens of pad thai street vendors.

Anyway, we left Chiang Mai at 5am, and ate yogurt and granola bars for breakfast on the bus ride to the airport. When we got there, we went through sorriest excuse for security. It was an old metal detector and a bag scanner right next to the door. Arty went through too, even though she didn't have a boarding pass. It was confusing. Then we got our boarding passes, and Arty led us to the Bangkok Air lounge, where we had free food and coffee! Yay! Anyway, Arty left us, and we went through another weak security check (shoes on, laptop in the bag, liquids in the bag, left the sweatshirt on, didn't ask for a boarding pass).

The flight was short and I slept the first half, but then they brought out breakfast (cheese roll and fruit), and I kind of drifted in and out of sleep again. I couldn't sleep again because we are already descending and I had to chew gum to keep my ears from popping. Didn't work. My ears hurt for a while.

When we landed, we got our luggage and met our tour guide, Tony. He is originally from Chiang Mai, so we could understand his slow accent better than maybe a person for Bangkok.

Tony brought us on a boat tour of Bangkok, the Venice of Thailand. The city has a canal system built into it from when boat was the fastest way to get around. We saw some wats, and stopped at one and climbed the tallest pagoda in Bangkok. The stairs got steeper with every level. Ascending, no problem. Descending, I was clutching to the railing like an old woman, creeping down sideways. My thigh hurts. We also went to a part of the canal with a lot of fish, and fed them fish. The fish are Asian Carp, which are trying to be eradicated in the US, but they're protected here in Thailand. Interesting. The boat transportation was interesting, but I was hopping in and out with no problem at the end.

We finally checked into our hotel, which is the fanciest in the old city. (Although the old city is described as “bohemian heart of Bangkok,” which basically means it's full of dirty hippies and beggars.) Anyway, it's also fancy because it has a pool and fridges in the rooms, and our shower has a bathtub! Ooh... Xee and I live on the 6th floor with about half our group.

When we got to the hotel, we had some time to go and eat, then went to do presentations all afternoon. It was a little boring, but it wasn't bad. We were there for about 4 hours. After, we tried to find dinner for cheap that wasn't pad thai, which is everywhere. We ended up getting rice noodle soup with pork (the other option was liver). Then for dessert, we had roti (chocolate), then mango and sticky rice, then ice cream! At the ice cream place, we were approached by students to take a marketing survey for their class. After they left, two other students asked us the same thing (same class, different group). They gave us a postcard after to thank us.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Update on Bangkok

Well, I don't particularly like Bangkok. Dirty, sex-crazed, tourist dump compared to the heaven that is Chiang Mai. I'll put full posts up about Bangkok when I get back on the 27th. In any case, still having fun. I won a free custom-tailored suit! Woot!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Abroad Trip Day 19 - Last Day in Chiang Mai!

I feel like our trip is over. We still have 5 days left, but it's the 5 days in Bangkok at the end of our trip, so it's the end of our trip...

Today was a first of 3 presentations days. We all gave a 5-10 minute presentation on ethnographic observations we made and cultural interpretations of those observations. I discussed how the early socialization of children into linguistically and visually distinct and strictly defined gender roles reproduces the gender hierarchy of men over women in Thai society. I love being a Womens Studies and Sociology major. Topics ranged from public displays of affection to clothing to differences in behavior in age groups to driving habits. Considering we were in presentations from 9-4 with an hour and half break for lunch, we had a lot of fun listening to each others interpretations.

For dinner, we had a class group dinner at "traditional" Lanna dinner. Lanna is the ancient kingdom of Northern Thailand. Tourist attraction hardcore. they fed us regional foods (but the spice was toned down for us Farang), and danced and performed traditional music in traditional costumes with traditional instruments. Most of it was tacky, but it was fun. I'll have a lot of pictures from other people after we share.

Tomorrow, we leave at 5am for a flight to Bangkok, where we will have 2 more presentation days of readings we've done through the course.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Abroad Trip Day 18

Today was an early morning! We went with our tour guide, Arty, to her village to visit her uncle's temple and see the community service project he does there. Her uncle is a monk (and younger than her) and works with HIV+ women in the community to form support and reduce stigma in the village for HIV+ people. Because they can't work as much as a food vendor or farmer (between taking care of their kids, their parents, their husbands (who is HIV+, if alive), and their husbands parents, and fighting against economic discrimination for HIV+ people, the womens economic prospects are limited), they have all been trained to sew. Mainly, they sew outfits for monks in Japan, but they also make other things to sell, or things other customers demand. I bought an HIV/AIDS awareness bag for 130baht.

Then we went to a Leprosy Hospital which is not a rehabilitation center and nursing home, located near Chiang Mai. It was the first care center for people with leprosy in Thailand and was founded by a Presbyterian missionary. It is still very Christian and promotes Christianity through its services, but performs good services for people with disabilities, so it is probably good that it's here. Plus, the island was unused because the locals believed it was haunted by the spirit of a rampaging white elephant, so at least the space is being used, even though I would argue it could be used more effectively because there is a lot of space dedicated to empty buildings.

Anyway, we ate lunch at her friends house. She's a ladyboy and she's teaches cooking classes. She's wonderful. She made a delicious lunch of spring rolls, cashew chicken stir-fry and chicken and eggplant green curry. She then entertained us by answering all of our questions about being trans in Thailand. Ladyboy have bad reputation for being prostitutes and cheating people, but not most of them do that. If they've had surgery (top or bottom), they don't have to serve in the military. However, they are not allowed to legally change their gender, so her passport says male, not female. She was also very beautiful, with classy makeup and a modest yet flattering dress. I find it interesting how she exuded the ideals of Thai women's appearance better than most Thai women do. Probably because she has to try harder to prove she's a real woman. The same thing certainly happens with transpeople in the US.

After we got back, I got 2 coffees and did homework. Later, I'll probably go eat Indian food in the mall and get bubble tea! And get a lot of street vendor food, like sticky rice and fruit and roti. It's crazy to think that tonight is our last free night in Chiang Mai. Tomorrow we have a group dinner, then we leave early in the morning to fly to Bangkok. I don't want to leave! I love Chiang Mai! I guess I'll just have to go back one day!

Oh, and on a note about health: 3 people have been hospitalized with fevers and other illness symptoms at some point on the trip, but they're all doing better. One of them now has colitis, though. I got a rash on my collarbone, and developed a cough. Many of us, including me, have bedbugs.

Abroad Trip Day 17

Today we went to an NGO which works with HIV/AIDS affected kids (children whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS) and women who are infected with HIV/AIDS. They're a Christian organization which houses AIDS orphans and women and children dying from AIDS. Or at least that's how they started. Soon after, anti-retrovirals were introduced, and people stopped dying right away. Some kids have been living there since the mid-90s, and the HIV+ women have been living there for around a decade. Most of them have moved out of the shelter. It was a very interesting, moving NGO. They specifically help ethnic minorities in Thailand, mostly Akha and Lahu people. They have a kindergarten there as well to help Uplander kids learn how to behave in Thai schools (how to speak Thai, how to act in a classroom setting, etc). We got about 15 minutes to play with the kids on the playground. Crazy adorable! I pushed a train swing, and then the kids pushed me. It only took 1, though. Strong 5 year old!

Then we went to go eat lunch at ISDSI, which was our last time there with Pi Tik and Pi Carrie, who were our ISDSI teachers. We debriefed for an hour with them, then headed back to the hotel.

It was a homework-y afternoon. We have a 10 minute presentation on Friday, and a paired 30 minute presentation on Saturday, so we're all kinda overwhelmed with homework. After homework, some of us went to the mall for a pad thai dinner and bubble tea. There, we saw a strange sight. There were dozens of Thai women who were dressed really whorish-ly. Normally Thai women are pretty conservative, but all of these Thai women were wearing mini-dresses and mountains of make-up and accessories. They all went to the same place in the mall, so we figured they were going to a theme party or something.

Anyway, then we went to the night market to observe for our presentations and buy some last items. I got myself a coin purse (my other one broke), and a few hats for people. We also saw fish therapy feet tubs, where the fish eat your feet. But it was 120baht for 15 minutes. I would rather just get a real pedicure where fish eat my feet and not a night market booth. Also, I was wearing long tight pants, so it'd be hard to put my legs in water.

Then I worked on homework until the hotel worker came upstairs to turn off the lights in the lounge. I figured that was a good time to go to bed. Overall, I'm kind of glad we have a lot of homework. It demands reflection and speculation for what we've been seeing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Abroad Trip Day 16

Today was an awesome day!
We left at 9am to go to an NGO whose main operation is fish-farming. They breed tilapia, then sell the fry to locals to raise in their ponds, who sell them back later as larger fish, when the NGO sells them to local fish markets and companies. The fish food is primarily plankton, which are fed by manure from the local cow and pig farms. They also do work with the locals creating a Christian community using local traditions, such as language and music.
In any case, we got to help retrieve eggs from the breeding ponds. Yup, we got to go in armpit-deep manure-y mucky ponds to grab fish and flush the eggs from their mouths. Awesome! It was actually a lot of fun. However, many students needed different shoes that wouldn't get lost in the muck. My chacos were good for it, but a couple workers went to the local market and got a bunch of cheap crappy shoes. They brought them back and students tried to find ones that fit. That's when the fun started. Turns out, cockroaches like to live in crappy shoes, and at least 3 pairs had about 10 cockroaches living in the shoes. That was fun. And funny. Picture it: 22 college students and 2 women putting on shoes filled with cockroaches, then dumping them all over the ground and bashing the shoes, paranoid there are more (most of the time, they were right; they held on pretty well). Even people who didn't have bugs started double checking and triple checking. Needless to say, very glad I had my chacos.
Anyway, we walked through the muck and the uck in the pond towards the netted mating pairs. The workers in wetsuits dragged a net through it so we wouldn't miss any, and we proceeded to scoop them up in a net, put it over a larger net (the eggs would fall through the first net but not the second so the fish wouldn't crush the eggs), open the mothers mouth and gills, and dunk her head in the water to flush the eggs out of her mouth. Tilapia hatch completely in a week, so they check the fish once a week or so, and have a few dozen mating groups with 100 pairs in each net. Each group gives a few thousand eggs each time, so they go through a lot of fish.
After, we ate fried tilapia (which is hard for us Americans used to frozen filets, but not for the Thai people who aren't afraid of eating bones) with rice, a stir fry and fruit. Very delicious. We were also given a concert by the music specialists at the fish farm. It was interesting to hear the local instruments. One was violin-like, only held vertically and rotated to change strings. The sound box was a coconut.
After we returned home, and showered for a long, long time, a couple of us went to do some much-needed laundry. However, our laundry machine kept breaking and we eventually washed only one load of laundry in 1 hour and 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we budgeted 50 minutes, and were 30 minutes late to our class dinner at a fancy hotel restaurant on the roof. :( It was still fun though.
When we got back, we went right back out again to the bars. We started at Blar Blar Bar, where I proceeded to drink a 1/3 of a bottle of scotch with pepsi. Not so bad, taste-wise, but after that I knew I was done for the night already. At Warm Up later, another person in our group drank half the bottle, and she wanted more. But we cut her off when she started acting like Farang Kinok (birdshit farang). The Thai people are very reserved. At bars and clubs, if they're really drunk, they might sway a little bit and tap their foot to music. There were some Australians there who were dancing like crazy, jumping everywhere and bumping in to everyone. They got a lot of glares. When they asked us to dance with them, we said "No, Thai people don't dance." and they said "We're not Thai!" When in Rome does not apply to them, I guess. Studying culture may have given us more sensitivity to respecting local norms, and therefore improving our safety. Fun night overall, but even drunk little me was babysitting. Ah well! Sabai Sabai!

Abroad Trip Day 15

Today was a nice, relaxing day. We got to sleep in and didn't leave til 9:45. We only went to ISDSI for a 2 hour lecture, then had the rest of the day off! Hoorah!
After eating lunch at OrgVeg and doing some homework, a few of us went to get a Thai Massage. 200baht for an hour is well worth it! Including the 20baht tip, that is an hour-long full-body massage for $7.34! We went in the nice shop, where they gave us tea and clothes to change into. Loose, baggy, light blue fishermens pants and a loose, baggy spring green long-sleeve shirt. We proceeded to go up 2 flights of stairs (there's a bedroom on the 2nd floor. I will leave you to your own conclusions), and through a hallway and down another flight of stairs. We proceeded to get pulled on, elbowed, pushed, slapped, kicked and gently rubbed. I felt so nice afterwards, but she could have been a little rougher on me.
After, we went to the night market to get dinner. Harder than it sounds. I walked along while other people bought some things, looking for a place to eat. We walked by a couple Arabic, Irish, German and American restaurants (expensive, and we didn't want to eat at McDonald's or Burger King), to stumble upon this hole in the wall Thai place. Er.... hole in the buildings, because there were no walls on this restaurant. It was a street vendor kitchen in a lot with some tables with a tarp over it. When we figured out it was a restaurant, we got really excited that we finally found a place we were willing to eat. Forget the fancy foreign food, give us a sketchy Thai street restaurant! I had been craving Indian food, so I got yellow curry soup with chicken and a lemon smoothie for 100baht ($3.34). Yum!
After, we seelaw-ed back to the hotel, then out to the bars. We started off, fittingly, at Warm Up, which is a pretty popular bar. It's a chill place with a lot of tables and a live band, and a goldfish pond where the goldfish were about the length of my forearm. We tried to go to Blar Blar Bar, but it was closed for a staff party, and the other bars were too fancy/empty or too crowded.
So, we went to Mike's. Mike's is a restaurant chain like an American diner. I got a chicken cheeseburger combo with fries and a chocolate milkshake. It was a perfect late-night drunchies fix for only 160baht ($5.34).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Abroad Trip Day 14

Today we left at 8am to go to Wat Doi Sutep, the Buddhist temple on the top of the mountain. Wat = temple, Doi = Mountain. I am not sure what Sutep means. Unfortunately, even though we were at breakfast before 7:30, we were not served any food by the time we had to leave. The main woman wasn't there the day before, so maybe her kitchen and routine were messed up. Breakfast yesterday took forever, too. Oh well, we were going up the windy mountain road anyway, so less food means less motion sickness.

The temple was a crazy tourist attraction. Very ornate and very crowded. Lots and lots of farang. Tour buses of French and Korean and Middle Eastern people, just to see this temple. We went there to do an ethnography of the people there, so the wider variety of tourists besides French, English, Australian, Kiwi and American was quite refreshing. The market that's grown around there also provided me with delicious waffles for breakfast. I think everything has sweetened condensed milk in it. Even ice cream has sweetened condensed milk on top for syrup. Not that I'm complaining, though. :)

After, we came back for lunch and a lecture, then had the rest of the afternoon off. I went to Wawee coffee, did some homework, had some delicious coffee. Then I went to the place in front of org veg for dinner, and had a pepsi with it. Much sweeter but not as acidic as in the US. I went back to the hotel, did more homework, then went out for the Sunday Walking Market. I got a bunch of gifts for people and myself. I spent a lot of money, but it was only $25, but that is 750baht. Considering my dinner was 30baht and my pepsi was 20baht, it's a lot of money. Anyway, we took a tuktuk back from the market, and it's a lot of fun to ride!

A few of us went out to a bar called Panda'n'Roll, listened to the live punk cover band, had a beer, and called it a night. It was a pretty touristy day. Fun night, but touristy. We did go down market alleyways that other farang did not go down, though. Not sure why people didn't go there, because there were a lot of good deals.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Abroad Trip Day 12 and 13

We went to Wat U-Mong yesterday for an overnight meditation retreat. It was... interesting. We arrived at 9am. We learned how to meditate using sitting, standing, reclining and walking methods. Walking is my favorite. While we were at the Wat, we had to obey all 8 Buddhist Precepts, not only the 5 that laymen follow. They are:

  1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyani: I undertake the precept to refrain from taking the life of any living creature (Ironically, we ate chicken while there)

  2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

  3. Abrahmacariya veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyani: I undertake the precept to refrain from incelibacy

  4. musavada veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the precept to refrain from false and harmful speech

  5. surameraya-majja-pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the precept to refrain from consuming intoxicating drink and drugs which lead to carelessness

  6. vikalabhojana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the training rule to abstain from eating at improper times (from noon to 7am, no eating. Only breakfast at 7:30 and lunch at 11).

  7. nacca-gita-visuka-dassana-mala-ghanda-vilepuna-dharana mandana vibhusanatthana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the training rule to abstain from dancing, singing, music, shows, wearing garlands, using perfumes and beautifying with cosmetics.

  8. Uccasayana mahasayana veramani sikkhapadarn samadiyana: I undertake the training rule to abstain from the use of high and large seats and beds (we slept on a mat made out of grasses).

Yup, those are the 8 rules. Anyway, we meditated for a couple hours every couple hours. About 9 hours total. We went to bed at 9pm, and got up at 4:30am for morning chanting and meditation. Yup, 5:30am, I was sitting outside, eyes closed, trying to not think and not fall asleep. Overall, the meditation wasn't bad. The Buddhism isn't that bad. The monk was... sexist? I think sexist, more so than necessary for a leader of a sexist religion who grew up in a sexist society and is now sexually repressed. Made comments like how women are complicated, and therefore need more rules. Or asked “teacher” a question, but didn't mean the woman with the PhD, but her male student who wants to teach, and actually cut her off mid-sentence when she started to answer. Not the best monk I've met by far. I much preferred the other monks at monk chat, but he says that monk chat is not as good as his monk chat. Also, he says Ladyboys and gay men cannot be monks, but we saw Ladyboy monks at other temples, and we have been told that Ladyboys and gay men can be monks as well. He later made fun of a male student for sounding gay when he accidentally said “-ka” instead of “-krup” at the end of a sentence. He blatantly favored the four male students over even our professor. When he asked for questions, and girls raised their hands, he asked the boys to ask questions when they did not have their hands raised. He also took three of the boys on a private field trip, and completely ignored the girl who went along as well. He gave them keychains and his email address, and took theirs. He even went so far as taking his favorite boy on a private walk, and asked him how often he masturbates. It was really strange.

In any case, it put a damper on the whole meditation retreat. As if not eating enough food, sleeping on the floor of a closet (my bedroom was 4x6feet, and freezing), and being sent outside at 5am when it was chilly weren't enough, right? I would put up with that and the sexist religion that says even the youngest male infant or most infamous criminal is a higher status than the most admired and respected women.

Anywho, I took a long shower when I got back, went to the mall, did homework with an iced mocha, and ate half a pineapple. Calmed down. Felt happy. :)