“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.” — Mark Twain

(Good thing I’m a writer. And insane. Well, just a little bit.)

I know, I know! I’ve not written in ages!! Days! Weeks! Months! maybe not months. Actually, I’m not sure how long it’s been. So I’ll try to make this one count.

What have I been doing? Do I even know? A lot of school work, which is why I’m here so that’s all well and good.

I just had my first assessments due. Which is basically like midterms, but a different word, because, of course. Can’t use the same words as those crazy Americans. Or the same grading scale. (Why? What is D1-5, P1-5, F1-5 First of all, why do you need to number the Failing grades. I think just failing is pretty much all you need there. And then whats passing versus distinction. WHY IS THAT A THING???? What happened to percentages……..’cause seriously I think the distinctions start at 77%….That’s a C. A high C, but a C.) I don’t know what grade I got yet. Or, ever, because I don’t understand the grading obviously. We’ll find out soon I guess. It’s only 30% of the total grade. But still. Meh.

One of them was a research plan for a novel. Maybe that’ll get written at some point. Maybe not. I might get my feedback, and all it’ll say is, no. Don’t. Naaaaah. Hopefully it doesn’t. But at least that book has a plot.

The book I’m developing for Creative and Editorial Development……..doesn’t have a plot yet. BUT! I know what to do to get a plot. It’s a near-future speculative science fiction. I’ve spent a lot of time looking into viruses. Which is a form of procrastination. I don’t have a plot though. Had no idea what one of the characters wanted. But now I think I might. Maybe. She’ll get there. Whatever. I’ll work on it. Part of my grade in that class relies on figuring out a plot. Oh! And my mentor thinks it should be around 80000 words. I just looked at her….like okay. Sure. And I’ll invent a new math at the same time. I don’t have to start writing it yet. But if I want to use it as my major project for the summer, I shouldn’t start writing it yet. Otherwise, my mentor will tell me to start a new project. Because as helpful and motivating as she is, she’s also a little bit…..over enthusiastic; and mean. Not mean mean. But you get it.

That’s been my life though. Look up science stuff. Pretend I have a plot. Figure out plague statistics. Cry a bit (not really. not yet. I have not yet hit the wall….which I think is a good thing). Then look up more stuff. Ask people in my flat about science stuff. Because they’re scientists. It’s a lot of research. Ugh.

Then there was the research plan for the other book which was, funnily enough, also a lot of research. So many books that I should be reading. Or articles. Or movies. Whatever. I’ll get around to it. I’ve got a pile sitting here from the library, and then like four from home. I’ll get it done. But it was my birthday recently! So you know, I had to celebrate!

I mean, seriously. It was a good birthday. Nothing got too crazy. I had fun. The people I’ve met that celebrated with me are amazing. They’re gorgeous people. My flatmates decorated the kitchen with balloons for me! It was great. I did tear up a bit at that. And now we get to escalate from there for everyone else’s birthdays. There’s a couple more weeks before the next one, but I think we’ve already got a plan. It involves balloons and Saran wrap. (Which again, isn’t called Saran wrap….I don’t even know what it is called; cling film?)

Oh and then my mentor offers editing services for short story contest entries and there just happens to be a scifi contest coming up, due date in January, so we’ve decided (I mean, yeah, I know I need to do this) that I can use the contest as a minor character/world-building development exercise. MORE WRITING. What did I expect though? It’s a Creative Writing MA……

Oh, we started doing this psychogeography thing….I don’t get it and I don’t like it. So my plans for tomorrow are to go get lost in Edinburgh, pretending I can walk routes from Cleveland here. Which obvi I can’t. But that is apparently what part of this psychogeography thing is? Who knows. That’s what we’ll find out next week. I’ll try not to get arrested.

What else? Not much. Making plans to do things over breaks. Like driving…? to the Isle of Skye in summer.(OMG OMG I CAN RENT CARS NOW!) I super want to come home for Christmas, but monies….. it’s just so expensive. I’m gonna keep looking for tickets though. More procrastination!

I can’t remember if I’ve done anything else….is that bad? I haven’t really been anywhere outside of the city. And even that is usually within walking distance. I’ve had the remnants of a cold for the better part of October. It’s just a cough. But it’s annoying. And I want it to go away.

But I’m having fun. I really like it here. If you’re planning on visiting, let me know. I only have classes on Thursdays and Fridays, so I have time to hang out. I mean I have homework. But it’s what it is. I do like it here. I dunno why. It’s cold and gray; so is Cleveland. I can’t understand some people still. People can’t understand me. I ordered a latte the other day and got a cappuccino. That can’t just be me though. Oh, and NO ON UNDERSTANDS WHAT I’M SAYING WHEN I SAY MY NAME!!!!!! So I guess I’m Siam now; Nice to meet you. It cannot be that hard, can it?

If you wanna know something specific, you should ask me. I’m often distracted by the two novels I’m supposed to be writing. ❤ ❤ ❤ Love you guys!

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

This year, I spent Christmas and New Year’s in Thailand. Which, and maybe this is a little obvious, made it seem like anything but the holidays. I mean, I LOVE Christmas. It’s my absolute favorite holiday, as I’m sure you noticed in one of my more recent posts. But here’s the thing, everything I love about Christmas, it doesn’t really work in Japan, or Thailand. In Thailand I think it’s because the country is almost entirely Buddhist. And I mean Buddhist. Not the general, yeah, shrug shoulders, point at a temple Buddhism you find in Japan. I mean seriously Buddhist. The rest of the country, and I’d have to look up some figures here, but I believe most of the remaining percentage is Muslim, with perhaps a few Christians hanging on. So Christmas in Thailand almost snuck by unobserved. Yes, everyone had on Santa hats and there were Christmas carols in the air, but I get the feeling that was going on long before I got there on the 24th, and it was going on after December 31st. Still, it’s better than Christmas in Japan which is basically a hallmark holiday. If you have a problem with Valentine’s Day, or even worse Sweetest’s day, (or white day if you happen to know what that is…it’s reverse valentine’s day in Japan) then you’ll definitely have a problem with Christmas in Japan. It’s basically another valentine’s day, with Santa, and parents giving their kids presents.

Anyway, Thailand!

The first day we went south, and stopped in Pattaya. Crazy foreigners, everywhere! I don’t know what it is, I mean Thailand is huge (compared to Japan), and maybe I just do more touristy things here, but I have seen flocks of foreign people almost every day I’ve been here. And Bangkok is a big city. So is Tokyo, but it always seems like there aren’t that many foreigners around when I’m in Tokyo. Bangkok has been the opposite of that.

Especially Pattaya. But we arrived and went to check out this museum that has all these optical illusion paintings on the walls and floor that you can just kind of play around with. So we did. We spent at least two hours in there, just posing and messing around with the camera angles. It was a lot of fun. (A lot of this trip has been posing for photos, but that’s okay, I rarely remember to take my own photos, so having someone else doing it is kind of great!

After Pattaya, we went to the ferry to Koh Samed, a gorgeous Thai island. All Thai islands are gorgeous, this one was no different. The best part of the island, for me, was the taxi service. Hear me out. Tuk tuks are frickin awesome. Tuk tuks are like the best way to get around, next to the terrifying motorbikes.

(A quick aside about Thailand roads: OMG! The scariest thing ever. If there are speed limits, I don’t know where they put them. I have yet to see a sign anywhere except the dead-man curves all over the freeways. But perhaps worse than there being no agreed on speed limits, high or low, is that any road lines appear to be more of a suggestion than anything else. Every day I’ve been in a car, we’ve regularly driven half in one lane and half in another, or riding along in the lane reserved for making U-turns (not the suicide lane) despite the diagonal yellow lines underneath. And crossing the entire highway width to make an exit. It’s been rough on the motion sickness. But I guess it works, since everyone is doing it. But motorbikes! They turn what is a three lane road into a seven lane road, weaving in between cars, moving or stopped. Traffic lights seem to be the only thing, most people pay attention to. Motorbikes and even the occasional tuk exempted.)

Back to the island, they didn’t have tuk tuks unfortunately, but they did have pick-up trucks that have these makeshift benches in the back. It’s like a mix of car and roller coaster and it is amazing! So we rode around the island, from ferry to hotel to beach, in these trucks. We spent all afternoon on the beach, in the water and relaxing in beach chairs. It was very nice. Leaving behind winter in Japan and enjoying the 90 degree weather was one of the best things I could think of to do. (Japan does not, after all have central heating.) The hotel was right on the beach too! Thai islands are like post card perfect vacation places.

Sadly, we had to leave to go back to the mainland, and Pattaya the next day. It was a nice leisurely day though. We went to the aquarium, and I was fascinated by the horseshoe crabs, because they were so weird to watch! They just sort of lie on their back and swim in a really awkward folding motion. I spent like ten minutes just looking at that tank. Then I watched some starfish move around. Much slower but equally fascinating.

Sunday was kind of a bust. I had not been as careful as I should have been with what I ate, and was sick all day. It only lasted about 24 hours though. So I was lucky there.

Monday and Tuesday were very lazy days. Waking up late morning and going to the zoo or an exhibition center for the afternoon. It was cool though. The zoo had a bunch of animal shows and a spy show that we saw. And you could feed giraffes!!! I love giraffes! But one tried to lick me, and that wasn’t so cool. And it was a good day of easy walking/driving after being sick. AND after the spy show I was asked by one of the random people there if I was from Australia. Which was weird. I guess in Thailand to a guy from India on tour in the Bangkok Zoo, I look Australian. I have been told that in Japan, if I don’t talk, I look like I am from England. (So where do I look American? OR do I ever look Canadian? Or….just a general….what…?)

The exhibition center was really cool. A lot of Thai history and information about the king and the palace, but they had a bunch of models or art styles and craft and clothing, and Thailand through the decades. I would definitely suggest going, and if you can, ignore the tour guides. They have pretty good English, but they rush you through, and you don’t get to read all the signs and information.

New Year’s Eve was also pretty chill. We went shopping and to the movies (which are SOOOOO cheap compared to America and Japan!) I had no idea what seventh son was about, and maybe that made the movie better, but it wasn’t terrible either. And shopping is fun, for me anyway. I didn’t have a lot of room in my suit case to bring a lot home though, so I didn’t get to do a lot of shopping. But I did eat some macaroons, which are my new favorite cookie! AND I saw a milkshake/ice cream/yogurt/something chain called ‘Hmm…..milk!’ which was interesting and I definitely made fun of it a little bit.

On New Year’s Day, we went to a place called Ancient Siam, which is this park like area that has recreations of temple and different ruins from all around Thailand. They also have some original designs of temples/buddhas/statues of various things. That was really cool, we got to walk around and take pictures; and because it wasn’t the original thing we were able to climb on the ruins/go in the temples. Within reason. You couldn’t climb/do whatever you wanted anywhere. But it was pretty cool. I had a lot of fun. AND, randomly, early in the day, while walking around looking for more places to take pictures, this random lady grabbed my arm and made me take a picture with her. So that was…nice, I guess. I choose to think it was because she thought I was pretty or someone famous or liked my clothes, and not because I looked funny, or something like that.

On the second and third we got Thai massages!!!! One of my goals for the vacation – massages! Apparently Wat Pho is one of the origin places for Thai massage, so you can go in and get them there. It was really nice. A little weird, because all these beds are just next to each other with no walls or anything, but you just change into some baggy pants and then whatever shirt you had on, and they start pulling and pushing your organs and muscles and limbs. I have never had all my toes and fingers and elbow and joint cracked like that before. It was really relaxing though. I loved it. Although she did bend my arms and knees into some positions that I did not think they would get into naturally. The second time was a salt scrub massage, and that was so nice! My skin still feels smooth and soft from that. It was great! I fell asleep too, until she started pushing on my stomach and I was awoken by my brain saying that “hey! There are organs in there.” It was good. And after a mini adventure with the car breaking down a little bit, we returned to watch this Thai drama that has like 30 characters.

That was the one thing that I was not prepared for. I knew that it would happen, but still. I do not know Thai (now, I know like 4 sentences…maybe 5 or so: but pretty useless stuff like this is an eggplant, and that is not a bird.) And constantly being surrounded by it was tough. In Japan, even though my reading skills are not the greatest, I can guess at a lot of things from what little I do know. But I cannot read the Thai alphabet, and don’t even know where to start with learning. And even if I could read, I don’t know what anything means. I really missed English and even Japanese. Or just having some ability to do things on my own, and not needing to ask, “what? what?” every time I went somewhere or someone talked to me.

The last day, we spent at an amusement park. It was fun! It was also a good thing to do on the last day. That way we weren’t too sad all day. That happened in the airport. But instead, all day, we could focus on the rides and the different thing we could do. Of course we went on all the biggest roller coasters and spinning flipping rides. But we also did stuff like bumper cars. It had been years since I did bumper cars. It was a lot of fun, maybe more so now that I can drive, and super dangerous, probably. My car jumped completely off the ground a couple times after getting slammed into, and drifting it around a sharp corner was way too easy. I loved it though!

And they had a giant’s house, supposedly from Jack and the Beanstalk. There was a giant rocking chair you could climb into, and huge slippers and silverware and everything. It was little difficult for us to get up into the rocking chair, because we were so short, but it was really cool for taking pictures. I just wish the lighting had been better in the room.

Of course it wasn’t comparable to Cedar Point. Not for the first time have I realized how lucky? unique growing up in Ohio and having things like Cedar Point so close was. People all around the world have heard of Cedar Point. It’s one of the best amusements parks in the US and possibly the world. And for me, it’s normal. In fact, the only place that I’ve been that you can talk about rivaling it is Disney World. Also fairly close to Ohio, in the grand scheme of the world. Crazy.

Also, after coming back to Japan, it has been brought to my attention that having names for coins, penny, nickel, dime, and quarter, not to mention a 25 cent piece is odd. And confusing for people that don’t use such things. This came from my Australian friend, so maybe it’s different in, say, Canada or England. But it was a hard idea to wrap my head around – that dime is not an obvious description for a ten cent coin. Just a random thought to end a ramble-y post on. Sorry it took so long to get up. I’ve been lazy. I will attempt to be better. I will try. I hope.

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you”, that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

Well, here at least it is Thanksgiving. It’s still another couple hours/a day for you, but it’s already starting to get dark here. I can believe how much I miss daylight savings time. In the summer the sun NOT coming up at 4 is nice. And in the winter the sun NOT setting at 4 is nice. All of both of those things are nice. It’s so disheartening to see the sun start setting and know that there is another hour before I can go home. So not fun.

But this is not a complaining post! That was the last one. It’s very rant-y.

This is a thank you very, very much post.

To my family, my big, beautiful, colorful, crazy, ridiculous, awesome, magnificent, smart, wonderful, and open-hearted family – each and every single one of you – thank you. For being whom you are, for all the get-togethers, and dinners, brunches and vacations, parties and presents and holidays, for being family, with or without the blood to prove it; for all of that and more, thank you! I love all of you so, so much!

To my friends, my amazing, worldly, adventurous, creative, gorgeous, awe-inducing, trend-setting, kind-of-fantastic friends – thank you! Thank you for everything! For being whom you are, for dealing with my crazy-self, for shopping, and conversations, for TV marathons, and actual exercising, for phone calls and texts that go on for days! Thank you! You are more than any one deserves, and better than I could’ve asked for! I love you guy too, so much!

To everyone else – thank you! Thank you for everything, for reading this, for being here. Thank you!

To everyone that supports me and helped me to be the person I am now, though you may not be reading this, or even know it’s here, thank you.

So take a drink for me today, spare a second for a thought, send some love out into the world and eat some good food. Have a wonderful thanksgiving, and remember this quote, for me:

“God gifted you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you?’” — William A. Ward.

p.s. Today is 8800 days of Sam! Little ol’ me 8,800 days old. Just a random fact to make your Thanksgiving a little more math-y.