Lighting a Fire

February 16, 2017

Chiang Mai, Thailand

motivation noun  mo·ti·va·tion \ˌmō-tə-ˈvā-shən\

enthusiasm for doing something      Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

I’m back in my apartment room at almost 1pm sipping on the remains of my iced coffee from earlier today. I should be out looking for a job. I should be out exploring possibilities. I should be out doing something. But I’m not. I’m holed up inside wondering what to do.

It’s been a week since I moved my stuff into this apartment. I purchased bedsheets and pillows for my sleeping comfort the same night. Unfortunately, the thread count of the sheet is about the same as for a burlap sack, so the comfort wasn’t really what I had imagined. I’ve also discovered that the Thai standard of bedsheets does not include a top sheet. To be honest, I don’t even know if it’s a Thai thing. The only fact that I know for sure is that in America, or at least everywhere I purchased bedding, there was always a top sheet included in the set. But I don’t know if this is the standard in other places. This would explain why many of my couchsurfing guests who stayed with me in Chicago didn’t seem to know how to use the top sheet, and slept between it and the blanket that I provided. I remember it causing me a bit of consternation, because I would have to wash the blanket in addition to the sheets each time I would have a new guest.

But after a few days of laying on a scratchy bedsheet, resting my face on a scratchy pillowcase, and keeping warm with a scratchy duvet cover, I saw a for sale ad from a guy who was one floor above me. He had been in Chiang Mai for a month, and was on his way to Pai, another smaller city to the northeast, towards Myanmar. He was selling his gently-used and much softer bedding set. Now, I’ve never been in the market for used bedding before, but I reminded myself that I’ve several times stayed in hotels and hostels where the bedsheets and pillowcases have been used over and over by multiple strangers, and that laundering with soap seems to work. Now my bed is much more comfortable, with a much higher (thus smoother) thread count, and the old(new) duvet being used as a mattress pad. I also purchased from him an electric kettle, which allows me to heat water quickly for the two cases of ramen noodles that I purchased six weeks ago before my class started.

Other than that major accomplishment, however, I haven’t really done much. I did read two books, which was a nice change of pace. One of them included “The Martian”, by Andy Weir. Yes, the same one that the movie was based on. It was as good as I could have hoped, and you should read it yourself, even if you’ve already seen the film. Now I don’t have another book, and thus no good “excuse” for staying inside. My stack of printed resumes sits on the desk, waiting for me to put on teacher-appropriate clothing and hit the streets applying for jobs. But I don’t feel the enthusiasm that is necessary to do so. I haven’t worked in almost two months, and having no income is a bit worrisome, but it hasn’t gotten me off my ass to change the situation.

Of course, I’ve not spent all of my time in the room. Nick and I usually go find some breakfast mid-morning. It may not be the breakfast that we are used to back in America. Usually, my first meal of the day now includes rice or noodles, and is many times pretty spicy.  If we eat in the street food court inside the mall down on the corner, I usually will spend 40 baht for my meal, and cool down my mouth with a 30 baht iced Thai coffee from the counter with the pretty girl with the beautiful smile. Spending $2 US for a meal with coffee is still pretty awesome, and I find myself balking at meals that cost 100 baht or more. I guess I’ve become cheap. I will splurge a bit on occasion. On Valentine’s Day, we joined a couple of our former classmates, Nicole and Nerissa (who were back in town just for the one day), at an absolutely beautiful restaurant for pizzas and beer. Named, “The Faces”, this place has adobe walls on the outside with narrow doorways that look like shutters for an entrance. Once inside, you realize that you are really still outside, as the restaurant has no real roof, just a lush canopy of trees and tropical plants. With the stone and terra cotta carvings of gods and heads, it has the feel of walking into a place where you would expect to find Indiana Jones appropriating some lost treasure or icon. That meal set me back 380 baht, which amounts to roughly $11. But it was worth it, as we spent a couple of hours with good people, laughing and reminiscing about the good old days that happened in January.

Last night after a cheap dinner, I had Nick come with me to the Bus Bar that sits right on the Ping River to the east of the old city. Every Wednesday night beginning at 8pm, there is a meetup of local and visiting couchsurfers there, and I had been wanting to connect with the group. Nick originally had reservations about the whole “weird and creepy” couchsurfing concept, but after about 30 seconds, he was deep in conversation with the people there, and even met another guy from Arizona who had stopped in Chiang Mai for a time. For me, it was just good to be around like-minded people again. I was able to chat over beers and exchange stories with some travelers from Switzerland, Poland, Germany, and Hong Kong. It turns out that there is also a language exchange meetup on Tuesdays that I’ll probably begin attending next week.

So, back to the motivation issue I’m having, I’m not really sure how to explain it. It feels like fear, which makes no good sense. I just finished up a tremendously difficult course in how to teach English, and it can’t get any more demanding than that. I think I’m afraid to go out there and be told ‘no’, there are no openings right now, or that I’m not what they are looking for because of my lack of a college degree. I know that these hurdles I’m placing in front of myself are bullshit, because some of the schools are just looking for (preferably white) warm bodies who are native speakers of English. Or maybe I’m a bit intimidated of having to report for work in a new place again, where they expect me to know what the hell I’m doing. Fear of committing to something. Perhaps that’s it.

Earlier today, I reached out to Steve, the British expat I mentioned before. Steve and his Thai wife, Dang, have a small cafe near the school I attended in Hang Dong, which is actually a bit south of Chiang Mai. He had offered to help out with introducing me (and others) to contacts who could recommend jobs and places to live in the area. He asked if I had gotten myself a motorcycle or scooter yet, and I told him that I was trying to get a job first. He laughed at me and told me that I was doing it all backwards, and said I was like an upside down crab. So, on his recommendation, I’m going to go rent myself a small motorcycle and make my way down to his place tomorrow morning so he can show me around and introduce me to people who can help. A little bit of wind in my motivation sails. It’s going to be just fine.

Meanwhile, what the FUCK is Donald Trump doing to my country???

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