Monday, March 01, 2010

Not really likin' life too much right now. ALL I do is work - and I really don't enjoy it. It's stressful, there is rarely any gratitude, and I feel like I am wasting my youth...This weekend Geoff and the kids went to one of our good friends funeral. Why am I not there? Good question. Selfish coworkers? maybe - probably. I don't know - I may never know. At any rate I'm here - with this darn dog we got for Amber, finally home from the hospital I've been at ALL weekend. I used think I was a dog person (I am *definitely* not a cat person). But this dog - ugh, I just don't know. He is very "bitey" Why can't he just be cuddly and sweet - not the best personality. Makes me never want a dog again. Anyways, the most encouragement I get at work is from the janitors and the lunch ladies - how sad is that. "It will pay off - don't worry honey. In the end it will all be worth it." I hope they're right...I would NEVER encourage my kids to go to med-school. In fact I would *strongly* discourage it. It may possibly get better later - but there is a hellish decade spent smack dab in your youth. I don't know, maybe life is just harder for everyone after a certain age? I'd like to write a book - interview tons of people - the janitors I used to envy - yes, envy - how much stress could they have - emptying that trash the wrong way is not going to kill anyone, the patients, the teachers, the doctors...Yes, I will write a book - on life and expectations and perceptions and on reality - that is, If I'm gone from work long enough to do it - I will.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

chicago 0711 on 3/1/09

On the interview trail again - somehow I thought catching a plane from Indianapolis at 0600 sounded like a swell idea. Obviously I did not think that one through - but I did save a buck...I had to wake up at 0330 to meet the car downstairs outside the hotel at 0400 - and Indiana is an hour ahead of us - which I also did not account for - so basically I've been up since 0230 this morning - great. I was interviewing for my plastic surgery fellowship at the university of Indiana. I got there the evening before and since the night was still relatively young I decided to catch the hotel shuttle to downtown and do a little shopping - but then I got sidetracked when I met some guy that announces for motorcross - and I wouldn't have known what that was save for the commercial I saw in my hotel room right before I left. Anyhoo, I was hungry and ended up eating dinner with him and his friend and a place called St. Elmo. GREAT steak, one of the best filet mignons I've ever had - mmmmmm I can still taste it! Anyway, had some decent conversation, met some of the racers including some guy from New Zealand I got to chat with a little, and apparently the owner of one of the teams who happened to be the son of the owner of the redskins - whatever... I was unimpressed. Coy I think his name was. Come to think of it he was more cocky than coy - but it was only a 30 second conversation - I think I was just offended because I'm pretty sure he insulted the great state of Texas - who would do that?!? Soooo, I did not do any shopping but I did get treated to a great meal and got 2 press box passes for the motorcross show the next night - unforunately - it never happened. The friend I met at interviews, nice gal from Cali, and I went to dinner when apparently we should have been leaving for the motorcross. By the time we got there and the shuttle dropped us of about a MILE from the stadium and we ran because we were so cold (I was loosing feeling in my face and my fingers) the promotional will call booth was closed and my friend was in the middle of announcing and couldn't come down. For whatever reason it just wasn't meant to be. The bartender at the hotel where we ate did look at us a little funny and declare that we didn't look like the motorcross type. I'll take that as a complement but I still thought it would have been a cool countercultural experience. Oh well! At least I tried!
Boarding in 20 minutes....tried to sleep but couldn't - which ultimately led me to pay the $9.99/month for this airport service so I could get online and google: "pop-up cot travel airport" to no avail, so I went to facebook to pose the question to anyone who will listen if they knew of where I could purchase said cot - and if not to state that I would invent said cot and make millions. I actually have quite a nice design in my little head...
Anytime I tell someone I'm from Austin they kind of ooow and aaaaw. Funnny. It is a great town though.

Alright, that's my update..

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back in Birmingham

Well I've moved 3 times in 7 months. Not fun! This least is for the next year and a half - I made sure to ask what would happen if I had to break the lease - I'll just loose my $750 deposit. I guess I can handle that. So I guess I've been in my new place with the fantastic view but ghetto exterior for hmmm, 1.5 months - and STILL haven't finished unpacking. Good thing for that giant walk in closet - it's full of boxes. But I've been busy - went to Ecuador for a week (more to follow) went home for a week, and I've been sick - I'll unpack eventually!

Boston 2007-8

Hard long cold year. will add pictures later :)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

One year later

I feel so far removed from those previous posts. Since then I have moved from Houston to Alabama - thanks to my family. That was actually a lot of fun. My entire family took off from work to load me into a Uhaul and drive me to Alabama. I found the most amazing loft there, *exactly* what I had been wanting, and loved every second of that place. I miss it - especially now considering I am sleeping on a friends air-mattress in a studio in Boston and my only other furniture consists of a pop-up chair I bought down the road at CVS and the unopened boxes I shipped here from Birmingham. I am only living in this place for the first month, I get to move next weekend to a place much closer to work. Right now I have to take a cab to work every morning, that's like $8-9 a day. Ugh. I walked once, the vagrant to me ratio was a little high, and who wants to walk 45 min to work at 430 in the morning! I'll keep taking a cab.
I don't think I actually miss Birmingham though, funny 'cause life is definitely no picnic right now. I guess because it's not home. I just miss Texas.
Intern year, what can I say. Compared to what I've experienced this past three weeks, Carraway was a complete cake walk. I knew I had it easy, except for those few months w/ those horrible residents, man they were awful...what makes people so unpleasant?
When I think of my year in Birminham I think of
-interviewing w/ Zsila, going on our little tour w/ our new found asian friend romeo, the botanical gardens - how birmingham should have been renamed perfectville.
-going down to find a place to live w/ my great Aunt Rhonda, and meeting Stephanie, the girl who showed me my loft, we turned out to be such great friends. Funny, we had both been in Thailand at the same time, 30 miles away from each other. Stephanie lived in my loft too, she and her brother shawn, and the rest of her family totally took me in. I'll always be grateful for them
-sitting in my loft on my red couch gazing out those hugh windows of what was once the chamber of commerce - sometimes living in an old building can be spooky, but I figured the worst thing that ever happened was that someone got fired.
-how beautiful Birmingham can be in the spring, *everything* blooms
-Jenny, what a great friend, walking the dogs

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Scared to death

We just arrived by plane in the south Island of New Zealand (we flew into the north island, at Aukland and stayed in a dorm in a hostel with some other people from Scotland & Colorado - it was actually a really cool dorm, a lot nicer than the one I stayed in in Rome, it had a dance club, an internet cafe, and a restaurant),
Anyways, my shoulders are in knots b/c Zsila had to drive into town from the
airport. .

Zsila couldn't find the paper that showed my proof of having my license renewed so I couldn't drive until we could find an internet cafe and print one out.

Why is that a problem you say? Aside from the fact that she
is already a very scary driver:
1. We have to drive on the left side of the road. (which comes w/ more problems than you realize).
2. It is a campervan
3. There are TONS of hills
3. It a stick - Zsila doesn't drive a stick...

But aside from making everyone in Queenstown infuriated, nearly hitting two people and a black dog - we finally found a parking spot (although I'm not sure you could say we were actually IN a parking spot, but we were at least in the parking LOT.

I really thought we might die, we were lurching and stalling all over
the place! What a day...

Alright, we're gonna go ride a gondola and have some hot chocolate, it's deliciously cool here!


P.S. We were thinking about going skydiving, but I think I had all the adrenaline I'll be needing for a while just on the drive into town, so I think we're going to just take a hot airballoon at Sunrise on Saturday - they provide a picnic breakfast and everything - I'm soooo excited!

Everything went wrong, in Hong Konk by Zsila (my comments are in bold)

i have to type fast, but here's the scoop.

we had a layover in hong kong for five hours. so we got off the plane and took a train into the city then a fairy across to an island and took lots of pics of the skyline. it's all so high tech and definately not lacking in funds. it's very clean and sterile. it's like new york but more high tech. it's also kind of like san francisco b/c it's on a hilly island in the middle of the water. beautiful too!

okay, we made it back for our flight to aukland, NZ and had already checked our two suitcases from bangkok straight through to aukland. so we just had a huge backpack and smaller one to carry on in hong kong. well, as i try to go through the gate, a woman stops me and says my back pack won't fit in the over head compartment. i tried to nicely explain that it did in every other plane that is the same make and model of the one we're taking. she refused and showed me the dinky little basket that i was supposed to fit my bags in which were way smaller than the overhead space. so, then they told me to go check more bags in. julie was in the exact same boat. so, we go to check more stuff. they proceed to tell me it will be $250 U.S. !!!!!!!!!!! uhhm, hello, that is the price of another plane ticket somewhere. we had to pay supposedly b/c of the extra weight. of course we were overweight with luggage b/c we packed for a month in thailand and two different continents (and because we each have bought an entire other bag of stuff!). we both hurredly realized we were about to miss our flight so we just scrambled sitting on the floor in front of the checkout desk with everyone standing in line behind us watching us. (All the sudden it was like we were the only ones, in a room by ourselves, we HAD to figure out how to make it work). we both silently prayed for a miracle. we needed everything to fit as carry-on. They told us to throw away stuff. what was I supposed to throw away. so i started chunking shoes. good shoes! (I had a whole bag of stuff I was throwing away, shampoo & cond., I wripped the pages out of my journal that I had used, so much stuff, I was like what do I no *absolutely* need) then i had a revelation!!!! i pulled out all of the clothes and yelled for julie to start putting on all of her clothes and i would too. I already had pants and a shirt on. well, I then had three more pairs of pants on top of that. we were standing there in a panic just putting clothes on top of clothes. julie stuffed more shirts in her sleeves! (At least Zsila was wearing pants, I was wearing a skirt and had to put on Jeans under it, in the middle of the airport. It was totally nuts. We must have looked so rediculous standing there putting on every article of clothing we had with us, I Looked like a marshmellow! A shortsleeved shirt, several long sleeved shirts, a sweatshirt, AND my Jacket, in addition to several pairs of pants, I was sweatig like I'd never left Thailand.) I have never done anything more ludicrous or hilarious in my entire life in an airport. i passed inspection and made it in the gate without having to throw anythign away. wow!

we sat in the airplane hot as could be from all of our clothes we put on and had to take them all off and repack for our huge over head compartment space we had to put them in. a lady from NZ sat next to us who told us she had seen the whole thing. Man that was crazy. We were laughing hysterically as we sat and waited for the plane. Oh no, we have to go back through and do the same thing on our way home. please pray that we can pull it off again.



The next day in Phuket we took a tuk tuk to kamala, a primarily Muslim community. This is where the tsunami caused the worst damage. All the other beaches looked completely cleaned up with only a few shops on side streets showing signs of destruction where the waves had swept through. However, this spot is just a few Km from the beach where we were & it was just sooo destroyed, I'll have to wait till I get home to update the blog w/ more pics (I'm in New Zealand and no longer have a personal computer & you can't do that at these internet cafes). It was really sad - people were outside of their half destroyed shops, hoping for tourists with their open signs posted. We bought some icecream and a coke for our driver. We also just walked around and prayed for the people there. It was quite sobering. It is just so weird that 5 months ago I was sitting in our living room over Christmas watchin the coverage day after day and then just a few days ago I was standing on that very beach and looking at the haggard hotels - piles of filing cabinets, chairs, and other debris all stacked up outside on the beach with "no passing" signs.
It was a ghostown.
It would have been nice if we could have some of our time helping there. At least we got to leave some monetary contributions...
I heard it snowed in Amarillo, 5 inches. That's crazy - and half way around the world I am seeing the effects of what probably also resulted in that crazy weather.

Reading the newspapers on the plane really makes you realize how mad the world is outside. I mean, I know we have weird horrible things in the US too, but I don't know, the rest of the world can be pretty savage and scary - but mostly - so unpredictable, in the worst kind of way. Nepal was in a state of emergency until a few days ago (the king fired the government, gave himself absolute power, and put most of the politicians in jail), in Laos parents make their children swim across the river to Thailand to beg for money. And it is a *rushing* treacherous river, and when they don't come back w/ enough money they get beaten. In India a priest (in addition to other people) was gorred to death by a bull (which is pretty Ironic considering they consider the cow to be a sacred animal - anything that would rip your flesh to shreads and leave you a bloody, dead mess doesn't seem very sacred to me, but then I'm not Hindu). In thailand a 14 year old boy was put in Jail for putting excess chili powder in a nearly empty bowl (there is apparently a specific law against this that was passed in like 1957, isn't that nuts!).

And that's your world news for the day.

On a lighter note we had great fun the first night we were there. There were about a zillion people out and about. In fact we had so much fun that by the time we decided to look at our watches it was nearly 4 in the morning! How was that possible! There were still people *everywhere* eating dinner outside and everything. It was nuts. That was a great little excersion...

Monday, May 02, 2005

Parasailing in Phuket

Hey guys. Change of plans...
So I was going to meet my friends sister in that country - We left for the Nan airport at 1:30 and didn't arrive in Bangkok until after 8. Yeah, we totally missed our connecting flight to Udon Thani where we were meeting our friend and all of her friends from Europe and her roommates AND there was not another flight that night. I talked w/my friend and w/ zsila & we all decided it wasn't really worth it to go there (b/c we would still have to take a bus from the airport etc.) I was really disappointed at first but we got a *great* consulation prize - even if it did cost us an extra $75 for the plane ticket. We had already called the Baptist Guesthouse in Bangkok (where we stayed the first time) and arranged to stay there when we were still in the airport in Nan. So when we got to the airport in Bangkok - which we are *very* familiar with - I even chatted with a friend I made at PB air the last 3 times we there and he gave us a bunch of pumpkin seeds to snack on :) We went to Thai airways and got our tickets transferred from Udon Thani to Phuket, which took some doing. We got a taxi and by this time recognized our surroundings enough to give him directions. We arrived at the guesthouse a quarter 'till 11, everyone there was already asleep or gone so we grabbed the envelope which already had our names on it from the inbox, stored our luggage in another room & drug ourselves upstairs.

Yeah - an airconditioned room! It was soooo nice. Then we woke up the next morning and headed back to the airport. I finally talked (actually, *paid* -literally) Zsila into going to this really awesome hotel. I mean we are going to be here for ONE night, we might as well do it right, when will we get to be here again. We are staying at a new hotel in Patong - IT IS BEAUTIFUL!!! It is either a 4 or 5 star hotel and was only like $96, isn't that amazing! As soon as we walked in we got first rate treatment, they had us sit down and brought us ice cold cloths and these great iced ginger drinks while they checked us in. Our room is awesome, I LOVE the bathroom, sooo nice - especially after what we have grown accustomed to over the past month. The beach is breathtaking and the night life is great - soooo much going on. We ate two huge hamburgers then laid out by the pool this afternoon. The pool is enormous, like 3-4 olympic size pools placed end to end with all these neat alcoves and shallow places to sit. Then we went and walked on the beach - the sand *literally* sparkles like diamonds, I've never seen that before. It is so beautiful. There really weren't that many farong's (westerners) on the beach, but a lot of local thais - mostly just wearing their clothes (either b/c they don't have swimsuits or they are modest). Hey Dustin & 'Manda - the beach we are at reminds me a lot of that one we went to in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - only bigger, more touristy, and more pristine. The mountains on the side even wrap around like a crescent - just like they did there. Our hotel is in an awesome spot! I love how they sell fresh chopped fruit on the side of the road and on the beach - yummy! When we were walking on the beach we saw these people parasailing so we decided to do it - I mean what an awesome view - It was such great fun! The thai guys running it were a hoot! We got all harnessed off and we started out just standing on the beach with the big speed boat on the ocean in front of you along with a pile of rope and then as the rope unravels and disappears in front of you they are like "one, two, three, run! And then all of the sudden you are just waaaaaay up in the air looking down at all the clumps of fish - thankfully I saw no sharks:) And then you just stretch out your hands and it is like you are flying high above the ocean looking at the mountains and the beach below. Gorgeous. And well worth the $15.
Then the boys took us back to the hotel on their little motorbike (don't freak out Dad - it was right down the road) so we could pay them. I reeally have to go to the bathroom and I have a feeling this place only has a squatty potty & I am not to keen on those so I might have to wrap this up quick. We just went to this fun bar and had lattes (yes it's 10 million degrees outside but I had a latte). We made friends with the girls working there and I bought a T-shirt. It is called 2blacksheep - it's an Irish pub! But, of course not really. They had this crazy band of younger to middle agers rocking out, playing all the songs we know, actually when we were walking by they were singing "I love rock and roll." Hilarious. These people all look like, well, not a band, and they are all rocking out with their cute thai accents. The played the cranberries - which the British dudes we befriended were singing at the top of their lungs. It was just too much! The weirdest juxtaposition of cultures and environments, and music. So after the band took a break we talked w/ the Brits about how scandelous Prince Charles and Camilla are, how Prince william is probably really so&so's son (princess Dia's "officer & a gentleman"), and how they all want him to be king and think Charles should just move away. It was all very entertaining. This morning on the plane I was reading the Bangkok post - I'll have to bring it home, it was soooo interesting. In it was a lot of stuff about Nepal, Burma, etc. They are so jacked up. Anyways, at one of the little shops outside we met this guy that is Nepalian, grew up in Burma, and now lives here, so I picked his brain about the situations there. I love talking to people from other cultures. I have learned so much this month.

Ok, I had to suck it up at use the squatty potty. It's basically like a urinal stuck flat in the ground and you just literally squat, I forgo to put toilet paper in my purse earlier so yes, I had to drip dry (I know TMI - too much information!) Then you take the bucket from the trashcan fool of water next to it and dump a bucket full of water down so it will "flush." How nuts is that, I'm sitting here typing on a computer (even if the letters are writtin in pink magic marker on the keyboard!) and there isn't even proper plumbing.

Oh, back to the Nepalian - He recommended this place for us to eat - about 20Km south of where we are. So we got in a song tow (and the driver offered to wait 2 hours while we ate and then drive us back, I'm talkin' serious service in this country people - we bought him a chocolate Sunday 'cause he was so nice!) This place rocked! The tables were right on the beach - the beach that was littered with all the little wooden curved fishing boats that had been out no doubt catching our dinner. We walk up and do we get a menu? No we get this cut little Thai girl (and this is ALL outside) pointing at these cement vats filled with water and HUGE fish and blue crabs and she is like - "pick." That's what I call some fresh seafood! I talked to my little blue crab. I was like "sorry I'm about to murder you..." He tasted delicious. As they say here - arroy ma ka! Zsila picked out a white snapper - that sucker was splashing all over the place! (that is until they grilled it with coconut and ginger and it came out as a flaming soup, it was awesome). We shared the two and then both had chocolate for dessert - I had a banana split - mmmmmm.

I cannot tell you how utterly surreal it is to be here. Do you know how absolutely glued I was to the TV over Christmas break... I was completely captured by the tsunami coverage. I remember doing my FP rotation and telling the staff how I didn't know where I was going to go in April but how I would really like to come here and now here I am! God is good.

Ok, I will write more later.

Love y'all!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Oh happy day

Well, first I want to start out by giving y'all (some of the Thai nurses that live here too speak Engish and I was asking them a question and *of course* I started it with "do y'all" you should have seen the look they gave me, they had NO idea what I was saying, or what y'all meant, they had never heard it) anyways, I wanted to give y'all an update on (I hope y'all are appreciating this updates because I endure many a bug bite at this computer). The girl below that I have a picture of - the one I'm giving the scalp injections was back in clinic this week, I had her come back after 2 weeks. And I am SOOOO excited for her, you would NOT believe how much her hair has grown back in just 2 weeks - thank all of you that were praying. All but one bald spot has so much hair growth. Actually that last one does too, it is just gray hair. Ok, I'll finish my happy day story in a minute. Zsila was helping the Ashburn twins with their chemistry but now she is done so we are going to go back to watching Anne of Green Gables, I love those movies. That and I am about to scratch myself to death. Ahhh!

Monday, April 25, 2005

There weren't any more patients so I went and got my "boomerang." That's Noi in the front, making cotton balls from a bid hard spool of cotton. I'm in the background weighing my boomerang to see how much it is going to cost to mail in home. Thankfully it is only about 5Kilos, so it shouldn't cost more than around $25, but that is the cheapest route, so I won't see it for like 2 months. It's not really a boomerang, It's that wood carving I was talking about earlier...
 Posted by Hello

There are always patients that bring us stuff. Today they brought us this fun fruit called leechy or something like that. There is an opened one in front, it looks sort of like an eyeball. It tastes *really* good - sweet & sour, and has a funny, smooth, pit-like seed in the center. There are all kinds of really weird fruits here, I'll put in some more pics later. Two of our favorites are hairy eyeballs and mangoseen. They're like something out of a star wars movie... Posted by Hello

This morning in the clinic, Dr. A and I discuss a patient. Usually Mondays are the busiest but this morning went really quickly. We see patients from about 9 - 12 and take a break in the middle for a few praise songs, and a testimony. All the Thai girls that work there come out and sing with a guitar - it sounds so pretty :) Posted by Hello

Afterwards we went by to pick up the Ashburn's daughter, Anna, she's a sweetie! They were all swimming in the giant quarry, having a great time...They were using old bottles and pieces of styrofoam as floaties. Posted by Hello

Once we decided what we wanted she took our measurements. I got a skirt, top, and matching jacket, & Zsila got a shirt & top. Who know's how they will turn out! Posted by Hello

This is the house of the seamstress we went to. She was a really sweet lady. We stepped inside and she handed us some magazines w/ patterns so we just sat down on the tile floor and flipped through them. It was really hot and the sweat just kept trickling down every avenue on my skin it could find. Posted by Hello

Yesterday afternoon we went by the fabric store to pick out something so we can have something made before we leave. The fabric is a lot different than in America. It doesn't come by the yard. You just by the whole section which is patterned on one side and plain on the other. It seems like it would be really hard to work with. I bought 2 big sections for right under 1,000 baht like $25. A lot of these fabrics would make great pillowcases, and some looked thick enough to cover furniture. Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 24, 2005

No more tests in med-school, by Zsila

We finished our Texas Medical Jurisprudence Exams! Yea! I'm so glad! Julie reminded me that is our last test in medical school. to think of all the tests we've taken and they are over, praise the Lord! that is an awesome feeling. this test actually wasn't that big of a deal, but it was necessary that we pass it online.

can i tell you about the journey we had while taking it? before we left for chang mai we were only able to take the first part of the two exams. that was b/c of a time factor and interference with nature, shall we call it. it was hilarious. it was late the night before we left and julie and i were in the lounge and we kept having interruptions by all God's creatures great and small. we'd be trying to read the book or take the test and then you would see something move by out of the corner of your eye and it was almost as if we were watching a tennis match. our eyes would be looking at the test or the book and then you'd see our heads move from right to left as we silently in unison followed the path of the lizard on the wall right in front of us. not to mention the sounds these lizards make. lizards the length of your pinky finger can hoot and holllar let me tell you. it sounds like a loud kissing hi-pitched noise. we always know where one is when we hear this. oh i love it when i hear it coming from near my bed especially! :) then an 8 legged spider would run across the desk just above the keyboard when we were trying to take a timed exam! at one point i was sitting across the room and julie was at the computer and all the sudden she froze and gasped. oh yes, sitting right next to the mouse of the computer was a massive tree roach! at this point, i couldn't take it any longer. this was not condusive to studying or my distraction free test environment! :) if only the people in america knew what we were going through just to pass this test. only in thailand can you have modern technology coexist with lizards and every type of tropical insect that you've only seen in museums. trust me! i'm serious, i saw a spider the other day that was something i have seen in the natural science museum and i'm pretty sure it was poisonous. great!
back to the roach - like i said, enough was enough. i calmly asked for a shoe and went to town getting that buddy. he was a little fast so at first i only got part of him and he turned over and did the famous cochroach dance. does la cucaracha sound familiar? i've noticed most of these critters just come out late at night. i forgot to mention the ants that were near the keyboard, but never seemed to sting us.

we took test two today after our trip and decided to do it right after church while less nocturnal creatures were out. it seemed to work out well.

anyways, i must say i've never taken a medical school test quite like these and will always remember the distractions that come while taking it in thailand. please, i'll take people coughing or getting up out of their seats anyday over these creepy crawlers. :)

it was a fun experience!


Our driver took us to this really awesome place on the water for lunch. Here we are in front of the King's tree, I forget what it is called, golden something. On his birthday they planted them all over the country. His color is yellow because he was born on Tuesday or something, every day of the week has a color here. Posted by Hello

As we drove around from place to place everyone we saw on the roads was soaked to the bone! At a stoplight these people stop to drain the truck bed of all the water. Hmmm, that reminds me of an aggie joke... Posted by Hello

Our really nice driver, he drove us ALL over chiang Mai ALL day long, and finally dropped us off at the mall, where I got to eat pizza - Yea! It was so good... Posted by Hello

At the umbrella factory. Do you remember those Mister Rogers adventures? I loved those! Well, this day was like a bunch of those all strung together :) In fact this factory reminded me of a particular episode - or maybe it was reading rainbow, where they made construction paper out of old jeans because at this factory they painstakinly make the paper for the umbrellas by hand in a fashion that was very similar to the way they made that construction paper. Posted by Hello

Mom & Dad, you would *love* some of the swings they had here :) Posted by Hello

Sitting on a giant piece of rosewood. They use that and teak for most of their work here. Posted by Hello

Trying my hand at the wood-carving place. They had some really beautiful stuff, the problem is getting it home! Posted by Hello

Those yellow things are the cocoons of the silk worms. After they form these cocoons they put them outside in the sun so the worms will die. That's right - gasp - it's murder! I wonder if all those animal activists know about this...
After they know the worms are dead they boil the cocoons and they start to dissolve into whispy hairs which they take and spool into thread. No wonder silk is expensive! But I don't know why it stains when it gets wet - would anyone like to commet on that? Posted by Hello

The worms at the silk factory in Chiang Mai. We had soooo much fun going to all the factories with our little personal driver.  Posted by Hello

The spirit in the Banyan tree

On the way up to one of the mountain village we always pass this tree. It is such a giant tree. I don't think you can really appreciate how big it is from this picture. All those dark things are giant bee hives. It's a really weird tree.
I was chasing these cows down the road right before I took this picture, fun times.
Thai people worship a number of random things, and trees happen to be one of them. It is generally believed here that most spirits living in trees are good ones. Of course the Bible and Christianity has a name for these spirits too - demons. Anyways, they make offerings to the tree and pray to the spirit they think lives in it. They also tie these huge ribbons of fabric all around the tree at the bottom. And, if one of their spirit houses is ever broken, they will place it at the base of one of these trees because it is "bad luck" to just dispose of one. I'm tellin' you, it is like stepping back in time here. Whenever you visit the mountain villages all the people, even the little babies have "spirit bracelets," but I haven't really understood exactly what their purpose is, something about protection. And all the villages have their own witch doctors. That reminds me of a patient I had my second year of med-school. He was a self-proclaimed witch doctor, but obviously not a very good one because he had sliced his foot open and instead of coming straight to the doctor he had just been dragging his bleeding foot all over his kitchen floor for like 3 days, using his own crazy concoctions. As a thank you once he did finally heal, he brought the doctor I was working with a real shrunken head. It was pretty freaky. I don't want to know where or how he got it - I mean is it even legal to own one of those? That also reminds me that I never finished the head-hunter story. I'll have to get back to that too...
 Posted by Hello

The Banyan tree

I really want to hurry and write about this before I go to bed but there are to many things scurrying around in here and it's startin' to freak me out. I'm pirched on top of this chair because I really don't want anything to scurry up my leg. There are waaaaay to many lizards in here...and roaches - AAAAAAhhh! Ok, this might be a short blog...

No more curry!!! By Zsila

tonight at the birthday party, we all lined up to go to the buffet to get the thai food prepared for us. amy was with julie and i and she made sure to tell us to stay away from the "dried blood." i asked which dish it was and she said the one that was "brown." well, there were several dishes so i spotted one that was brown and decided to stay away from that. i was excited i saw a dish i like here called green curry chicken. you pour it over rice. amy and i were next to each other and as i was putting the curry on my plate, she said watch out for the brown things! what??? i thought they were on the dish next to mine. she said what i was mistakenly looking at was pork. the brown things she had been referring to were IN THE CURRY. hello! this is majorly important for me to know about. the dried blood was in my curry on my plate! what could i do? so, i went back to the table and thought i could just pick around the dried blood squares. suddenly it occured to me, that it was in a liquid medium and dried blood can dissolve! i took one bite and realized i think i was tasting blood.
needless to say, i put that plate to the side and focused only on the fruit.
just some fun surprises you find out about in other countries!

julie, on the otherhand, had her own crisis. she ate some fish and after getting a mouth full, proceded to tell us that she had about 12 bones in her mouth! she couldn't do anything, but excuse herself from the table and the room and deal with it in a bathroom.

i crossed another life stepping stone. dried blood, who knew?


The funeral and the monks

We got invited to a funeral the other night and apparently the more people that show up to a funeral the more "merit" the dead person gets - they think it helps them get closer to nirvana. There are all kinds of crazy rules in Buddhisms (like honking when you pass a temple - b/c that gets you merit too...) So they just invite anyone. No one I was going with (about 6 of us) even knew the deceased. I always thought nirvana was essentially paradise - but no - it's nothingness, you cease to exist. So their entire religion is bent on extinguishing themselves. They believe they will be born over and over again until they finally "get it right" and then they will never be born again, they will just die and cease to exist.
How depressing.
Buddha (which literally means "enlightened one") said he was reborn 500 times until he finally reached "the enlightenment". His real name was Siddhattha Gotama, he was a rich prince, born in India in 532 or something (they actually use his birth for their calendar so here it's like 2537). I'll talk more about that later. Buddhists don't ever "know" anything to be definite. They can never know whether the power of karma will move them up to a higher life or down to a lower life when they die. I think that uncertainty is what leads them to develop so many extra rules like the more people you have at your funeral, the better your chances of moving up a notch when you are reborn.
God does says that "eternity is set in the hearts of men." You can't get away from that sense of knowing that death is really not final, there IS something else. There are very few Buddhists here who actually practice Buddhism in it's truest form - the one that says there is no soul, there are no spirits, good are bad, and there is no God. Buddha just got rid of God altogether, so basically, in a round-about way, you are your own god -all the answers are inside of yourself. The only problem with that is that - They aren't!
I am so thankful that I do know the one who holds all the answers, that I know God and get to experience his peace daily - that I never have to fear death, because I know my future is secure. Unlike what Buddha said his beloved buddhist people can't get away from the feeling of a higher power so here most of the people just believe in the bad half of that power. All around Thailand - in places from houses to car dealerships you will find "spirit houses." They make these little replicas of houses for the spirits to live in and they try to appease them daily by offering them food, etc. But I'll try and talk about that more later -Back to the funeral.
So we pile into Mindy's truck and drive a few miles down the road. The funerals here are all at night and last several days. They are usually at the persons house. So we walk up and there are these big canopies with plastic chairs underneath, sitting on a dirt floor outside the house of the old lady that died. There are these speakers set up with really strange music (which we are told is always played at funerals) blaring out of them. We take a seat in the pastel colored plastic lawn chairs and just start looking around like everyone else is doing. To our left are two huge chalkboards in a row and people are coming up and writing their names on them. Apparently they write their name, what community they're from, and I think how much money they give. Unlike in America, it is the duty of the family of the deceased to provide food for everyone who comes, they had even rented a TV and placed it prominently outside to entertain the guests that would come from far away - and then everyone who comes donates money.
I can see the door inside the deceased house in front of me and to the left. It is open and a bunch of flip-flops and sandals are piled in front of the two steps that lead inside. The doorway gives off a warm, red, smoky glow from the pile of incense sticks smoldering inside. Dark shadows are flickering and you can't really see all the way into the house because of the darkness. Everyone is sort of just milling around. The girls we came with are saying that there is usually a lot of waiting involved in funerals. A "girl" comes by with a tray of water glasses, I grab one as I turn back to here what Noi is explaining to me and Zsila leans over and whispers (that's a man!). She is proud of her new found eye for the he-she. "Yes, Zsila that's a transvestite," and I turn back to Noi. Ever since we first arrived in Bangkok I tried to point them out to her (some of them actually make pretty girls and it is hard to tell) but she would NOT believe me. "Julie, that is NOT a guy." When it was painfully obvious to me that is WAS a guy. And now that she realizes I was right she tries to spot them before I do, it's a game now - Like slug-bug only, not...) The really funny, or sad I should say, thing is when you see an older European talking to one and you *know* he has no clue...Our cab driver told us that some of them think/hope they will come back as a girl in their next life. Anyways, I'm getting off topic again.
Then Zsila decides she wants to go inside the house so some of our Thai girlfriends and Zsila and I get up and walk to the house, slip off our shoes and walk inside. There is a picture of the old lady that died, it had been touched up in a weird way so that her midface was sort of blurred in an attempt to make her look younger. It was on a makeshift easel with flowers and some Christmas lights surrounding it - and a bowl of sand in which an abundance of incense sticks had been haphazardly placed. Besides a strange metal and glass wardrobe sitting off and away from the back wall (and still filled with what I assumed were the deceased clothes,), the articles to the left of the door I just described, and the people in the house, it was completely empty. The "house" was a really a shack, boards of wood composing the floor and walls. In the corner some of the boards had either rotted or were torn away with areas large enough for a dog to squeeze through. The small entry way was lower than the rest of the one-roomed house and a handful of men sat on the small ledge, dangling their legs, some almost lounging. No one seemed particularly sad...One of the men hopped up when we walked inside and asked in Thai if we would tell him what an American funeral was like. "Nothing like this" I thought to myself. We gave a rather quick description because other people were coming into the house and there really wasn't much room, so we went back to our seats.
A man grabbed a speaker up front and started talking. There was a table in front of us with a younger girl and guy who seemed to be taking money out of a big plastic bowl and putting it into a handful of separate envelopes. We waited a while longer and then we saw the first monk saunter in, almost forget to remove his sandals at the door, and step inside the house. Darn, I can't remember how many monks there were....either 5 or 6. It depends on how much money you have but the fact that the number is odd or even has significance, ok, wait a second - OK, I looked it up. Usually monks come (because they come for all kinds of reasons, ceremonies and such that people pay them to come to their houses) in odd numbers because even numbers are "unlucky." But, at funerals it is different for some reason and I think the number can be even. However, I remember counting the monks when they came out and I thought it was 5...Aaaaanyways - there were monks. Actually most of them looked pretty young to be monks. They were all wearing bright saffron (orange - the same color as the gates in central park! There is a picture of that at the beginning of my blog). I don't think there is really any rule to what color their tuniks or whatever have to be but almost all of them are usually some shade of orange, and they all shave their heads and eyebrows like every 14 days, can't eat after 12 noon, can't touch a woman, can only own a certain number of articles - and this number seems to be ever increasing, and can now include cigarettes, hmmmmm - AND Zsila said she's pretty sure she saw a monk on a motorcycle way up in the mountains the other day with a girl tied around his waist :) - They have a gazillion and one rules and every male buddhist is supposed to spend time as a monk at least once in his life, there is no specified time. People say that a lot of guys become monks so they can just be lazy, but, I don't know, I haven't asked them! But the real reason they become monks is because it gains them and their family merit. Later in life many Thai men spend the remainder of their lives as monks.
Soooo, the monks slowly trickled in to the house and sat in a row against one of the side walls of the house. I could see them through the doorway. All the Thais around me got in the wei position (like they're praying with their hands up in front of them), but not the Christian Thais of course. It was kinda like they were worshipping the monks or something. It's sad, since Gotama took away God they'll just worship any and everything. There is a lot of idol worship here, which sounds so archaic, but it is ubiquitous...
Then the monks started their chanting, it was pretty creepy, and no one understands what they are saying because they speak in a language no one knows, something from India. It was just a very dark, oppressive occasion. Definitely not like the funerals we have - where even though there is a lot of sadness, there are people saying words of peace, blessing, and encouragement. This funeral only had a spirit of fear and lifelessness - one big vacuum. Yuck! Oh, and this is the kicker - on the last day of the funeral they take the body of the deceased and light it on fire for everyone to watch. How macabe is that! The people here say it is really bad when they do it stake style, with the body standing up, being burned from the feet up until the face flames away as everything disintigrates into a pile of lumpy ashes.
Yeah, I'm glad I went on the first day and not the last, I don't want a living picture of hell imprinted in my mind!
Alright, now everyone go enjoy your day :)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Injecting steroids into the scalp of a young girl who is losing all of her hair. Please pray for her... Posted by Hello

The waiting room at our clinic. The pharmacy is through teh door on the right and the rooms where we see patients is behing me. Posted by Hello

The Clinic

We work in the clinics Mon - Fri from 8:45 - 12:00. Occasionally we'll have some patients in the afternoon (OK, once). It is actually a really nice clinic, complete with nurses, a pharmacy, a lab, an x-ray machine, U/S, a small OR for minor procedures and 3 rooms in which we see our patients. And it is all pretty well stocked. They work on what is called the "30 baht system" which means they can all be seen for 30 baht each (less than a dollar) and then they have to pay for extra procedures/medicine - but it is all still pretty cheap.
It is definitely *a lot* different than working in the states. People here just don't have a good understanding of their bodies. They'll tell you they have low, low pelvic pain - so of course, reluctantly, you do a pelvic exam only to realize in the end they have a gastric ulcer! Not even remotely near their pelvis. They just have difficulty telling you where things hurt. Another irksome quality is the fact that they *never* bring their medicine with them, or know what their taking, or know what the last doctor said is wrong with them - they just don't realize this is important. But they are all just too adorable and so you can't ever be genuinely annoyed, and they are all very thankful. Most of them come to our clinic because they trust us, but they don't trust the other doctors in the hospitals, and they know that we genuinely care. That's nice...
It's also a little frustrating, a lot frustrating, because you can only do so much. There are serious limitations. You can't even put anyone on Coumidin (blood thinner) because you can't take an INR (to monitor the level of the drug - which for all you non-med. people is actually rat poison. That's right, your grandma takes rat poison every day for her heart...)
All of the people are really sweet. It's funny because all the men come in complaining of dysuria (it hurts when they pee) but only when they are working out in the fields - it's because they aren't drinking any water as they sweat half their body weight away and they get all dehydrated. Simple stuff like that. Of course, there's plenty of not so simple stuff too, and we don't have the resources to diagnose it. Another sad thing is that if you have chronic kidney disease they can't get treatment in this country - dialysis is too expensive so they just don't offer it!
How blessed are we to be born, and live in the county we live in. So many Americans have NO idea...but that's another blog.
A lot of the patients I see work in the rice fields - all day. No one is ever really clean. There is just a gradient of dirtiness - but you don't really notice it after a while. Everyone wears flip flops so feet are just in a constant state of being covered with a thick layer of dirt. I think I'm even a little dirtier! Especially with all the extra sweating - yummy!
This really is the land of smiles. I had one old man come in - he must have been smiling his entire life, the few seconds you could catch him not smiling you would see these wisps of white coming out at the edges of his eyes, like crows feet only it was where the sun had never hit. He smiled so much that the creases in his eyes never relaxed long enough to be tanned by the sun. How sweet is that :)

You know it's hot when...

-You ask the nurses that live near the clinic what they did today and they say, "Nothing. It was too hot. We couldn't do anything."
-The most important holiday in the entire country is centered around getting total strangers sopping wet
- you wake up in the morning covered by a bright red rash like nothing you've ever seen on your own body (except the time you had poison Ivy 3 times in 9th grade and had to keep going to the nurses office to put on Calamine lotion) and it's a weird rash because it doesn't itch. At first you are just red *all* over, they just in little spots all over. You finally realize, no you don't have a bunch of new bed buddies, you have a heat rash...If Julie has a heat rash we ALL know it MUST be hot!
- You take a shower in the middle of the day - with your clothes on - just to cool off before you take another nap.
- You pour water in your bed before you go to sleep at night.
- Before you pour the freezing cold water you've been hoarding in the freezer on your friend to freak her out, you pour it on yourself
- Being slimy starts to feel normal...

Monday, April 18, 2005


We really didn't want to leave Chiang Mai, but we had no choice. One of the missionaries, mindy, was our ride back. We actually had a really interesting trip. We hadn't met her yet and had a good time getting to know her on the long way back. she grew up in Papa New Guinea. You know that place with the head hunters at least they had head hunters until they were outlawed in the 1980's. Yeah. We were playing pong here in the U.S. and they were still chopping each other's heads off and eating them for dinner. That's crazy. This girl had some awesome stories. she told us about when they first got there and they were required to live with a tribe for five weeks and they had to live as they lived. Her older sister was 12 at the time and somehow through a big miscommunication she had questioned them about the big celebrations they threw. But the tribe, misinterpreted it to mean that she had become of age and had her first period. (can you imagine how embarrassed her sister was when she realized what she told them!) so basically, their family just ended up going through with it b/c it was just too big of a mix up. The head of the tribe informed them that it was tradition for the men of the family to go into the forest and were not allowed to come back until they had hunted enough to provide meat for the entire tribe (like 200 people)ฌธษ๊ธษณ๊ฌ็

We wait to trade our oxen in for elephants, we're moving up in the world! Literally... Posted by Hello

Me right after I got ambushed by a thai kid on the side of the road and his posse. Posted by Hello

...and the kid who got me! Posted by Hello

Our nice, big elephant. Zsila is holding up the bananas we fed him on the way. It was a huge clump and they would just chuck the whole thing down their throat and swallow! The top of their heads really looked like a big hairy butt. Whenever we went through the water he would reach down with his trunk, suck up water and spray it all over us. Even the elephants played songkran! We smelled like elephant all day :) Posted by Hello

sitting in the box chair right before our little elephant driver hopped off and let us drive the rest of the way. It was nuts!!! Posted by Hello

Zsila and I right after church, and after I decided to start of Songkran right - by throwing her in the pool w/ her church clothes on. Yes, I got wet too. And, the missionaries youngest daughter was like, " I wanna come in too!" She is soo cute. However, her mom didn't think it was too cute that she jumped in the pond with her Easter dress on - but she quickly got over it, and we had a great time. I've never gone swimming with a skirt on! Posted by Hello