Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The airport waiting lounge is a great microcosmic experience of Thailand, full of beach bums, honeymooners, monks, muslim clerics, vacationing missionaries and burned out hippies, not to mention the omnipresent Thai people who simultaneously make our presence possible and try to make some sort of living by letting us pretend our lives would be somehow different if we lived here instead of back home.
Philosophically, of course, we all know that life would be the same here... that all the pettiness and complexities of life would catch up with us here rather than loitering back home, smoking cigarettes on our front porches. But emotionally we think that maybe, somehow, this time we can outrun all our problems, that we won't load them up like the seventeen pieces of luggage we brought with us, that this time we can make a clean break and live a life of abundance and joy without questions or worries.
The problem being that all these things, we carry them around like tattoos. We can't escape them any more than we could escape our skin, or breathing, or the sky. And the remedy, well, He's as present (more so) than our problems... at home, in Thailand or India or Lithuania or Croatia or Russia or any other place you could name (or can't name).
Tomorrow is our last full day in Thailand... in Bangkok. As much as I'd like it to be otherwise it feels more like a stop on the journey home than another day of vacation. But so be it. Home needs tending and there are things and people there I wouldn't trade just for beaches and swimming pools. Although, if they wanted to join us here, I might be persuaded....
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
One of the nice things about Jon's seasonal releases is that I wasn't tired of "Fall" yet... I was still listening to it nearly every day. So having some more thought-provoking, enjoyable music is a treat.
I particularly like three of the songs on the new EP:
1) "Learning How to Die." See the post below for lyrics. This song gave me a deeper insight into the "Fall" album, actually. I realized (maybe I'm late to the party here) that the theme of Fall wasn't only the season, but also seems to be associated with THE Fall of humanity. It has a lot of songs about things not working out, temptation, giving in to temptation, and grief. Winter seems to be dealing with the fallout from Fall, just like the seasons, of course. "Learning How to Die" shows the inevitability of our separation from one another, the end of all living things and the necessity of embracing that in our current lives. It's beautifully written, lyrically and musically.
2) "White as Snow" takes the words of David, King of Israel that he wrote when he had committed adultery and murder. Jon sings it with a lot of feeling, and you can feel real remorse about the past and hope for the future. Again, this is one of the results of our Fall, that sometimes we turn to God for forgiveness, hope, repentance and restoration.
3) "Somebody's Baby." This was, to me, the most powerful and affecting song on the album. It's a love ballad to a homeless woman. It tells her story in a way designed to make you love her and wish you could step into her life and help her start over.
One of the things I've always appreciated about Jon Foreman (and Switchfoot for that matter) is that they aren't satisfied to keep doing the same songs over and over. What I mean is, each album has a new sound and pushes into new territory stylistically and thematically. This EP is no exception.
There you have it. If I knew enough surfer language I would say something profound like "This album is epic." But I don't. So I'll just say, I really like it. And I think you will like it, too. And I'm looking forward to Spring.
I know what you're thinking, "It's about time Mikalatos got off the beach and back to his usual shenanigans so I can feel superior and powerful whenever I read his blog, instead of feeling jealous."
Perhaps this will make you feel better: Yesterday I caught a lizard to show to the kids. Then it jumped onto my hand, ran up my arm, leapt from my collar to my neck and then ran down my shirt. The children nearly broke themselves laughing. I had to take my shirt off to rid myself of the lizard.
MORAL: If a giant ever catches you, run into his clothing.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Here you can see me about to feast upon home-made Thai goodness. We were ordering out but the women who work here said it would be much cheaper if we just let them make it for us. So we do, which means we're a little less certain what will show up each night. But it has been excellent. Yes, that is a giant pile of satay you see before me. ITS NAME IS SATAY!
Tonight we had satay, cashew chicken, a thick noodle dish similar to rad nah with beef (one theory is that the head of the slaughtered cow we saw today was the remnants of what was necessary for making our dinner), steamed vegetables and then for dessert we had mango sticky rice, jack fruit, coconut cream with corn and then ice cream. We all ate too much and have plenty for lunch tomorrow.
Right now she's reading "Son of the Black Stallion" and she asked me to get it for her to read before she went to sleep. I went to get it and noticed as I walked past the pool that the tagline read, "His name is SATAN!"
Well, that's curious, I thought. So I asked Z, why is the black stallion's colt named Satan?
She's not sure. The colt has fiery eyes, but she doesn't think that's the reason.
I guess this is why parents start reading their kids books before the kids read them. I don't have time to read that many books. I'm sure Son of the Black Stallion is fine, I just thought that was an uproariously funny tagline.
It would be a great tagline for our sequel blog:
SON OF THE BURNING HEARTS REVOLUTION
ITS NAME IS SATAN!
Me: Look, Z, there's a cow's head hanging in that tree.
Z: Looks like someone's about to have a party.
Friday, January 25, 2008
We're in this mysterious yet beautiful remote location. We're well cared for, but there's a feeling that we can't escape in some way. Then today, my Dad and I packed up and went on an exploratory walk around "the island" to see if we could find a town or anything.
We found a strange underground medical facility where it appears they have been genetically modifying polar bears to live in tropical environments. Also a big smoke cloud monster thingy chased us.
When I "get a chance" to upload some of Krista's pictures I'll show you what the view is like from our house here. It's amazing.
Okay, gotta go. I have to go type in the code and press "the button."
Thursday, January 24, 2008
I think it's going to be great, actually. Really relaxing and fun, and it's great to be together with my parents and Krista's parents and the kids. It's a great blessing to have parents that all like each other.
In other news, our daughter A lost her first tooth tonight. She called me to say it had turned sideways in her mouth, I reached in and plucked it out and there was much rejoicing. She's officially growing up, I guess, and that little missing-tooth grin we've come to consider normal for Z seems to be catching!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Turns out that it's a tradition of the Thai people to dress dogs up in their cast off clothing. So you see dogs running around in shirts of various qualities and colors. We saw one yesterday wearing an American flag handkerchief.
I have to say, this is yet another reason to really love Thailand.
Man: That was a good Boo-fay we ate at for breakfast this morning. I am FULL!
He rubs his belly like a big white happy Buddha.
Woman: Look, they have little ham sandwiches here in the lounge.
Man: That sounds GREAT!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Lunch: Curry, some sort of chicken curry soup thing, fried rice, watermelon shake.
Snack: Mango shake
Dinner: Basil chicken, garlic chicken, cashew chicken, watermelon shake, tom ka (soup) followed by ma dang (pork soup) and then some honey roti (fried pancake with sweetened condensed milk, butter and honey). Mmmmmmmm.
Thai food is good.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
We're in Chiang Mai now, and nestled into our nice little hotel room. We're about to go out and have a thai lunch. Of course I will report back on all the tasty food we eat. We're about a block and a half from the night market, too, so the plan is to eat mango sticky rice we buy from the street vendors every day. I can give up vanilla for a few weeks if I get mango sticky rice every day, no problem.
It's nice to be back in the land of smiles. I'll update you all as I'm able.
Krista went to complain about the stifling heat on the plane to one of the attendants and he said, "We always keep it this warm because people get cold when they are sleeping." His advice to her: "Don't use your blanket."
More great advice for our trip.
We leave in a few minutes for Bangkok, so hopefully I'll get you a note after we get there.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The friendly clerk pointed out the different models to me.
Friendly Clerk: -- personally this one is my favorite. It has more parts but less moving parts if that makes sense. This is the one I would buy.
Me: Then I will buy it.
We move to the cash register and perform our well-practiced ballet of purchase.
Friendly Clerk: Where ya going? Somewhere fun?
Friendly Clerk: That is fun. Of course, anywhere I haven't been is fun.
Me: So you haven't been to Thailand, then?
Friendly Clerk: No! I've hardly traveled at all. In fact, I've never traveled outside of the United States.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
One thing I noticed last night in the literature section is how many of the quotes on the jackets referred to various authors as being "brave." I wondered about this. What makes them so brave? That they boldly stride to the computer each morning despite the risk of being electrocuted by the mass of electrical wires snarled up behind it? That they recklessly grab paper and stick it into the printer despite the risk of paper cuts? Wow. That *is* brave.
Let's not cheapen the word by using it to refer to writers who decide not to use punctuation, or who decide to end their novels without a strong resolution. If you're looking for a brave writer, try Irina Ratushinskaya.
Oh, and I did manage to find a book for Thailand. It's Dave Eggers' "What is the What". I trust it will fall somewhere between good and spectacular.
Saturday, January 12, 2008
As it turned out, by the time the tornado watch got out there, the tornado had already lifted off again. But we did get some great pictures.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
As you can see, it was a great conference.
And I know what you are asking yourself and I will answer you: John and I were completely unscripted as MCs. There is a writer's strike going on, people.
We got to see a lot of good friends while we were there and of course my sister Lynn and parents were there, too.
Congratulations, Todd and Dawn! You can see more pictures on Krista's blog.
Now it's due in less than two weeks.
So I can't put it off any more.
I did two lessons yesterday and two today. And I'm targeting four tomorrow (plus I need to take an exam).
I guess I'll go work on it some more right now, but I was missing the Internet, which has always been a kind, loving and constant friend. Like you, dear friend, just like you.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
We almost made it out but the snow and visibility were dropping like crazy and we decided to hunker down here for the night.
We had several exciting moments along the way. We saw a semi flipped over in a ditch and several cars that had slid into the snow. Also, we noticed a fire on the side of the road, which appeared to be an electrical fire. There was a loud popping sound, and you could smell electricity in the air. I called 911 and reported it while our van sat, stopped on I-5 with the hazards on while snow continued to bury it, the road and everything but the fire. It turned out that the fire department had already received calls about the fire but couldn't find it. So I stood on the highway and tried to explain its precise location for a while. Then my family started to freak out because they thought the transformer (or whatever was aflame) could explode at any moment.
(Favorite moment of the phone call to 911:
ME: Do you want me to climb off the highway, cross the ditch, jump the barbed wire fence and see if I can find an address to help you find the fire?
911 operator: That would be very helpful if you could do that.)
Then, when we finally found a hotel, we discovered that one of Z's boots was missing.
This is why a good movie is better than life, sometimes: closure. Did the semi get out of the ditch? Did the transformer explode and cause a raging fire? Did Z's boot fall out of the car when we put on the chains or when we stopped to report the fire or is it somewhere in the van still?
In a movie we would have satisfying answers to all these questions in 90 minutes or less.
Since a blog is scarcely the real world I will create answers for you (although I will have to continue to live with uncertainty):
1) While the driver of the semi in the ditch was fine, his truck remained in the ditch for many years, and became the home of many forest animals, including a rather friendly family of skunks, who were thankful for the man's misfortune, as it gave them a nice shelter during the winters that followed.
2) Using the clever directions provided by the anonymous tipster (that would be me) emergency services found, fought and destroyed the dangerous fire, which would have surely consumed several towns and all its inhabitants if not for the anonymous tipster's quick thinking, clever wit and pleasant speaking voice.
3) Z's boot, abandoned by the side of the road, slowly filled with snow. When spring came a young child found it and was pleased to have one boot. She hopped around in it all the time and eventually became a champion hopscotcher, lifting her from the status of nerdy girl to hometown hero.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Here's my favorite comment from the day (that I was awake for, anyway). It happened while the kids were taking turns playing games on Krista's iPod.
Z: I killed all the guys who were parachuting down at my gun! I beat the game!
A: You killed the parachute guys? I thought you were supposed to try *not* to kill them!
I love that A's instinctual thought when playing a new game is that she should be trying to save the lives of people parachuting toward her gun. Why she is shooting a gun at all must be a bit of a mystery to her, though.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
New Year's Resolution: Eat more, exercise less. Because there has to be a balance.
It was a good New Year's event. Memorable moments:
1) John Rozzelle and "Pops" the puppet making up after a big fight and singing "That's What Friends Are For" to one another.
2) A powerful message from Crawford Loritts. You can see it for yourself below. If you watch carefully you can see me sneaking away before he gets started. (UPDATE: Rumors reach me that the embedded video below isn't working, so you can also check it out here).
3) A kiss from my wife at midnight.
4) As I walked from the hotel back to the conference center to rock in the New Year with the band Eightsweek, a drunken reveler hung out of a window in an apartment building. He brandished in one hand a bottle of champagne. I said happy new year to him, and he happily hoisted his bottle and shouted, "OPEN YOUR MOUTH!" I politely said no thanks and he said, "C'MON, OPEN YOUR MOUTH AND I WILL POUR CHAMPAGNE IN IT!" No, thanks. "OPEN YOUR MOUTH!" He demanded. I gave his window a wide berth. He called a disappointed happy new year after me and returned to his party.
5) Watching 600 people face off in a Rock, Paper, Scissors competition. The winner gave perhaps the finest victory speech I have heard in recent history when he thanked "My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Master Illusionist Kriss Angel, and my Mom." It was arguably one of the greatest moments of the conference.
Overall, a very fine New Year.