B(ac)KK

July 31, 2016

Last week I wrote to my friend Liz, Hanoi is a small dose of Eat Pray Love…

I had a lot of alone time, a lot of free time, saw friends who I think bring out the best in me. I rode as many motorbikes as my heart desired. I saw my friends’ babies, which made me think a lot about family. I cried when I watched Michelle Obama’s DNC speech. A hurricane came and went.

Now I’m back in Bangkok. If Hanoi was Eat Pray Love, this is Lost in Translation.  I am Scar Jo, pre-Bill Murray. I’m sorry to say, this blog is will probably take a turn for the dull. (If you stop reading, I understand). I’m picking out routines, haunts, schedules. Bangkok sounds exotic. It definitely can be, if you let it. Then again, so can anywhere. I’m not up for adventure right now. I’m excited to do yoga regularly and read books and write an overly descriptive blog entry now and then.

SPEAKING OF BOOKS: I finished Maitland’s How to be Alone – too meta? I know. It was sweet, written by a women who lives in isolation in Scotland. The beginning was a bit defensive. She belabored her point that there was nothing wrong with enjoying solitude, giving examples of geniuses and creatives and spiritual leaders who thrived on alone time. Okay okay, we get it! But it moved into more helpful reflections eventually; how solitude is a celebration of one’s  existence; how, in the end, it enriches relationships with other people.  Worth the read.  I gave my copy to my friend Tra – a loner who I love to spend time with.  

Next Up: Revolutionary Road. So far, really good. Better than the movie. Then again, I have an unexplainable soft spot for 1940’s and 1950’s American writing. (I will always love you James T. Farrell). 

By the way: I tried a sensory deprivation chamber (Maitland suggestion). No distractions. I listened to my pulse, and I think I fell asleep. Reader, if you ever have the chance, please try it. I also signed up for 100 days of a meditation podcast. Today is day eight. I am 8% transformed!

Here is a the coffee shop where I hang out.

photo 4photo 3photo 2

If you put me in Antarctica, I probably could still find the right coffee shop, and maybe even a used bookstore. (The one in Bangkok I like is called Dasa)

On that note, lovely reader, thank you for reading. Let me know if you want to Skype sometime. Solitude has its merits, but so does video-chatting.

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The plane tilted over a rice field. Just before the wheels hit the runway – that moment when you see actual humans wearing conical hats, rather than the abstract topography that deserves a David Attenborough voiceover (I love you, David) – all my inner organs constricted into a rubbery ball. The wheels hit Earth at about 8:26am.

I’m back in Hanoi.I have never wanted to physically hug a city before. Imagine seeing someone you were in love with once, after years of separation. It feels like that.

Some friends are still here – shout outs to Thu (thank you for dinner last night), John (thank you for a roof/conversation/bed), Annie (thank you for today), Michelle (welcome back too!), Giang, Hong Van, Kem (I can’t wait to see you all), Nhung (and you), and Tra (and you too!).

[No/Every]thing has changed. I’m staying in Truc Bach on the third floor of a house. If I only swallow rice, tofu, sautéed greens, and coffee for the rest of the week, that’s just fine. Yesterday I walked around a lake, hung out at a cafe, read a book, got my hair washed, bought another book…

  • BOOK REVIEW INTERLUDE: 
  • Just finished: Kevin Brockmeier’s “A Brief History of the Dead”. Awesome. The story bounces back and forth between a pseudo-afterlife, and the last human alive in post-apocalyptic Antarctica. Sounds too good to be true, right? Actually, this is one of those life-affirming books, that shines a light on the random moments that become the most memorable ones. Brockmeier does it again. Five stars.
  • Current Book: Sara Maitland’s “How to be Alone” (Seemed appropriate). So far so good. More to follow.    

Also, Still v. jet lagged. Here are some epiphanies I had between 3:30 am. and 5:00 am today.

  1. I want to try a sensory deprivation chamber. (Reader, have you ever?)
  2. There is a cool Tibetan Buddhist Nunnery I found online. Maybe I can sponsor a nun (Reader, thoughts?)
  3. The cure for fear is knowledge
  4. “Home” is an emotion
  5. Solitude + poor adjustment to new time zones = creativity?

The rest of the week I will be in Hanoi. I plan to ride as many motorcycles as possible. Lovely reader, please email me your address if you want a postcard.

Are you sure…?

July 21, 2016

Yes.

I’m blogging again.

For those who met me after medical school: I used to have a blog. See below, if you’re curious about my internal/internet monologue during those years.

For those who lost touch with me after medical school: I moved to Queens, and delivered babies for two years – 600 New Yorkers who I expect will all graduate college by 2037, and be as remarkable, kind, and charming as they were the day I met them.

There was no blogging then, for better or worse.

After six hundred births, I switched to Preventive Medicine — a field nobody has heard of and everyone needs. The problem with prevention is that if you do a good job nothing happens.

Two days ago I landed in Bangkok, where I’ll work with the Thai Red Cross’s HIV prevention programming this summer…

And, I’ll be blogging again! Hooray!

I don’t plan to write much about work. This blog is what it has always been: a  personal journal, written to be shared with you, beautiful reader. It’s old fashioned, but I hope you like it.

Stay tuned.