Friday, March 6, 2015

This is a chicken.

Good morning or evening (your preference!)

Much to update here! In this dusty, sleep corner of the earth, the temperature is rising and the mekong is steadily disappearing into acres of sandy beach and frazzled looking plants. I even played frisbee on this beach!

We had an event at our school last week called “Family Fun Day.” Apparently this is another event where our children turn into k-pop stars and sing Frozen and New Direction and other stuff i've never heard of and shake their hips at our head of school. Also notable were some of our 'sponsors' at the event, including the company “Slim Concept”, who had a booth at our event with the very nice touch of a scale for 10 year old girls to see how fat they are and some rather toxic looking products that would indeed cause you to lose weight since you'd die and dying is technically one way to lose weight and also a skin-whitening booth. I'm definitely not in Kansas or anywhere remotely near. Like most events my school puts on, this one looked like it cost roughly 7 million dollars. Also, with all the weirdly dressed trendy adults watching children entertain them via competitive performances, it kinda reminded us of the Hunger Games. The last few weeks, us upper primary teacher had spent a lot of time teaching the 4-6 graders how to perform a sign language song called “See me Beautiful.” It was listed on the official program as “Interpretive Dance.”

The interpretive dance:




Another exciting occurrence was seeing two neighborhood dogs stuck together after an intimate (although rather public) moment. Erica and I being mature fourth grade teachers promptly stopped everything, dropped our bags outside of our gate, and started gaping and taking photographs. An elderly Lao man who is always situated near our house perhaps as a general observer of life walked over and helpfully pantomimed with a circle and a finger what had happened. Glorious! I'm not surprised about this as I think either all of the female dogs in Vientiane are in synchronized heat or all canines have started a fight club recently... but this occasion has led to a great relationship with this lao man who now gesticulates lewdly to us every time we see him while he points to dogs and laughs while I reply, “yes, we like so much” in broken Lao (which I suppose means that Erica and I like when dogs get stuck together).

I went to a farm earlier this week with a bunch of Lao kids who have apparently never seen a shovel or a chicken before. Once again, I feel like Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I have shared intimate quarters with chickens in my past life!  I know how to dig and plant things! (sort of).  Newtern, the smartest kid in fourth grade who literally reads Jane Austen and Dosteovesky in his free time, affected a victorian english attitude and huffed about all the dirt. I mean, I get it. Harry helpfully told me that he was a herbivore as he ate a meat patty and fish for lunch. THe future president interacted with hay for the first time and came away pleased.   It was a good day.





 Pino's positive interaction with hay:






I'm really proud! The other day, I was driving home on Brian from hanging out with Otto and thinking about how Otto was spending his day working on his novel and I was spending my day probably ogling goats and I realized that there's literally nothing stopping me from doing something insane like...writing a song!!! And so, as I glided majestically down the boulevard on my truly surprising and new mode of transport, I started composing a song in my head using Brian as motivation, starting with this line, “I used to hate motorcycles. And the sort of people who ride them.” Promising start. I even had some phantom chord progressions echoing around in my skull! When I reached home, I ran upstairs, got out my uke and for the next half hour entered what I shall now refer to as my “Mozart moment” as I somehow plucked out the beginning of a song. I was so excited to tell Erica and when she got home she promptly finished writing the second half of the song. The day happened to be Valentine's Day, by the way, so by the end of our efforts we both realized that what had happened exactly was that we wrote each other a love song on valentine's day.

Feast thine eyes on the fruit of our labour...by going on facebook!!! I don't know how to link it here.  

What's really cool is that two goofballs like Erica and I can write songs! And not bad songs either! I can't guarantee it's not plagiarized as who knows what Metallica song was knocking around in my head at the moment to give me inspiration but it felt pretty genuine at least. If we can write a song, we can do anything. Anything!-including survive the bizarre social climate of Vientiane—which is quite an accomplishment indeed!

We have truly accomplished so much these past few months. Besides writing a song, we have also upped our domestic routine to 3 (3!!) dinners that we can make together. The first, a flavorful pasta with tomato sauce, then indian lentils, and finally bamboo soup. And, those fresh ingredients don't just appear in our kitchen, you know. We go to buy them ourselves. And I sometimes speak Lao to ask for bananas. So there. Take that, Lao. We now know how to inhabit you more comfortably than before. And our bamboo soup is next-level. Erica and I are so finely routined that a mid-week proposal to hang out, really throws us for a loop.


And speaking of loopy, tonight we leave on an all-nighter bus down to southern Lao to see Pakse, the Bolaven plateau, and 1,000 islands with pink dolphins!  The last time we took an all-night bus, it broke down for 12 hours on a mountainside and we had to forage for bananas and Erica had to share a bed with a thai lady boy.  Here's to a better ride!
Love and loopiness,
Ilse

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