Tag Archives: friends

More Days Like This

Today was a perfect day. I need more days like this.

A Perfect Day

Morning slicing
No rush
Sunny and breezy
The wind in my hair
Ninety minutes of stretching and kneading
Melting into a Thai massage induced coma
A short walk through the familiar neighborhood
My favorite Penang curry by the lake
A bit too spicy this time,
But still delicious
Quick stop for some Thai snacks
Before heading to the pool
Water the perfect temperature for lounging
And catching up with not one,
But two friends
Sunkissed, heading back as the sun set
Showered and in our pj’s
Pizza, laughs, and Netflix
The perfect end to
A perfect day

Five Stages of Grief: Bangkok Traffic Edition

After landing in Bangkok, I breezed through immigration, and having traveled with only a carry on, I was chuffed with myself that I wouldn’t have to waste precious time waiting on my luggage. Ready to get to Callie’s, I made my way down to the taxi queue. What in the world are all these people doing just sitting around? Maybe they’re waiting on people to come pick them up, I thought.

Making a bee line for the booth, I asked the attendant for a taxi, showing them Callie’s address in Thai. She gestured for my ticket indicating it was my turn in line. Thoroughly confused by this new system, I grabbed a ticket from the machine. Number 614. Ah crap! The number on the screen was 567. The realization hits me that this is why all these people are waiting around.

Surprisingly, the wait only took 20 minutes, after which I was loaded into a taxi on my way to Callie’s. Since it’s Bangkok, I know I’m in for about an hour’s worth of traffic. As anyone who’s lived in Bangkok or Jakarta can tell you, travel time has nothing to do with distance. ‘How far away are you?’ is never a question met with 5 km. It’s always explained in time. Being 5 km away could be anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours depending on traffic.

Cruising along the toll road, we were making good time. The sun was out, so I picked up my book, diving back into the stories of Jack and Libby. As the sun started to set, I switched my book for some tunes, happily lip syncing along while I smiled at the city passing by outside my window. We’re making good time. I should make it by 7:00, just in time to go to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the area.

No sooner had the thought passed through my mind, we came to a complete standstill. Red lights as far as the eye can see. Feeling myself getting frustrated, I tried to think happy thoughts, but the stop-go-stop-go wasn’t doing anything to calm me down. In fact, it only made it worse.

Well, maybe we just need to get past this one jam. We’ll pick up speed again, making up lost time. As the minutes ticked by, I kept making deals with myself, guessing what time we would arrive, adjusting the time frequently. Unsuccessful attempts to communicate with my taxi driver only fueled the frustration. How far away? “Close,” he said, whether he really believed it or not.

The maximum speed of 10 km per hour was taking its toll. I became antsy and resentful. Frustration built up in my chest. My jaw clenched. Looking at my watch only increased my anxiety. Staring at the red light we’d been stopped at for what felt like eternity, I willed it to change. Of course, it didn’t. Finally, I gave in.

I’ll get there when I get there. We’ll miss dinner. Callie’s probably wondering what happened to me. She’s probably starving and ready for a meal, too. Maybe she’ll have given up and eaten at home by the time I arrive.

After my driver missed the turn to Callie’s, I refused to let him make the u-turn and try again, knowing that would add even more time to the journey. Directing him with hand signals, I led him through the back streets and we eventually made it. Two hours after getting in the taxi, I was finally able to give Callie a hug! And, we made it for dinner.

Good for the Soul

You know those friendships that can withstand time and distance? Those ones where you can just pick up right where you left off, no matter how long it’s been? Lauren’s one of those friends. We’ve both had a lot going on and haven’t been able to catch up in way too long, but when she called me tonight, it was like being enveloped in a big hug.

Not wasting any time, we launched right into our conversation, catching one another up on the details of our lives, celebrating one another’s victories and empathizing with the low points. I’m honestly so damn happy for her. She’s had a lot to overcome these last few years, but she’s in such a good place now. Of all the people out there, she deserves it. Lauren’s the kind of person who would do anything for the people she cares about, oftentimes putting herself as the last priority, so to see her looking after herself and thriving instead of just surviving makes my heart swell.

As we meandered through topics of conversation, time stood still. Before we knew it, well over an hour had passed. With both of us needing to wake up early for school, we reluctantly ended our chat, knowing we could have kept on going for at least another hour. It’s definitely a to be continued conversation. Luckily the next time we pick up where we left off, we’ll be able to do it in person. We will both be in Bangkok next week and have already set aside Monday as our day to hang out, doing all the things we love- eating yummy Thai food, getting massages, sitting by the pool, and engaging in deep conversations, of course! One week to go…I can’t wait!

Talking with Lauren was good for the soul. I needed that tonight.

This picture of us was from 2 years ago in Thailand when we went on a crazy adventure road trip that I won’r soon forget! 😀

Restaurant Hopping

After our massage, we met up with Anna at the mall. Hunger pangs setting in, we strolled through the maze of food stalls set up this weekend. Weaving through tight spaces between the throngs of people, we saw that everything from dumplings to mie goreng to mac ‘n cheese grilled cheese to fish and chips to tacos to desserts was on offer.

Having seen what there was to buy (so we didn’t experience FOMO), we got to the end of the line and turned back. As Miriam and Anna headed to the Mexican food stall, I got in the  fish and chips line, but before it was my turn to order, I had second thoughts. Miriam had just ordered a taco when I got there, and noticing I didn’t have anything in my hand, she quickly cancelled her order, opting to find a sit down restaurant for us to eat in peace and quiet.

The three of us discussed where to go. Deciding we wanted something Asian, we headed over to Sushi Tei, where there was a wait to get in. We out our name down and were told it would be about 20 minutes. Wandering around a bit more, Miriam suggested that we just eat at Classified, since she was really hungry. Despite it being a Western restaurant, we all agreed. We were seated at the table, menus in hand, when Miriam announced that she didn’t see anything she wanted. After asking us if it was okay if we left, we slinked out of the restaurant, leaving the menus on the table. The old me would have never done that, for fear of embarrassment, but after living in Asia, it hardly phases me now.

Stopping by Sushi Tei again, we see that we are still way down on the list. Scratch that. Still jonesing for Asian, we grab a table at White Elephant, a tasty Thai restaurant. Seemingly happy, we place our order for 4 dishes to share. A few minutes later, the waitress comes back over to tell us that a few of our dishes are out of stock. OMG…this is one of my biggest pet peeves in Asia! Rather than noting it on the menu or informing you upon arrival, they let you get your hopes up, just to shoot them down later.

Deciding that we might move yet again, Anna runs over to Sushi Tei to see where we are on the list. Defeated, she comes back with a sad face to inform us that they’ve given our table away. So we decide to stay put, but at the end of the meal, I did give the manager some advice about ordering proper quantities of food and beverages, letting him know this is the way to lose customers. He smiled (a lot) and apologized. I’m pretty sure it went in one ear and out the other.

slice-of-life_individual

Year in Photos 2018

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. In some ways, I agree. When you snap a picture, you freeze a moment in time. You capture the essence of the experience so that when you look back at them days, months, years later, the details conjure up the feelings of that moment. As much as I love writing my stories, I also challenge myself to tell a story through the photos I take. The angle and framing of the shot, what you include and what you don’t, and the focal point all contribute to the story. To my story.

I love reflecting on the past year through photos (you can click here to see my year in photos from 201720162015, and 2014). The process of looking back over the photos from the past year takes me on a reflective journey and I smile, remembering the memories once again. 2018 was full of family, friends, food, and travels- all of my favorite things. Without further delay, here’s my year in photos, in chronological order.

Catching Up Is Fun #sol18

Social media has made the world smaller. Because of social media, I am able to keep up with people, no matter where they are. As we scatter around the world, we can continue to make connections with others.

I’m in Singapore for the IB Global Conference this weekend, and because of social media, I was able to connect with a high school friend I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years! She and her family now live in Singapore, so when I knew I was going to be in town, I looked her up and it just so happened that our schedules matched up.

Miranda and her son came down to my hotel, and we had dinner at Din Tai Fung before strolling down by the river to take in the city. It was so great to catch up with her. In high school, we were friends, but didn’t really hang out outside of school. Talking to her, we realized we are much more alike than we even knew. Our experiences in the past few years are very similar, and I found myself nodding along in agreement many times throughout the night. We are now looking forward to continuing our friendship, and hopefully she can come visit me in Jakarta!

My Person #sol18

You know when you’re friends with someone who just gets you? Someone who knows you almost better than you know yourself? Who has seen you at your worst, knows all your flaws, yet still manages to love you? Well, if you have someone like this, you can count yourself lucky! Michelle is that person to me.

Michelle and I met back in the summer of 2010 when we both took a leap of faith and moved to Shanghai to teach at this little school in the zoo. Little did I know then that eight years later, not only would we still be in contact, but we’d be such close friends. At first, we were more acquaintances than actual friends. If you ask Michelle, she’d attribute it to “2010 Jen” as she lovingly refers to how I was back then. However, when I met Michelle, I knew we’d end up being friends, it just took her a little while longer to figure out that she couldn’t live without me. 😉 Fast forward to 2013, the year we both moved into admin positions at our school. There’s something about being thrown in the fire to bond two people together. We experienced so much in those two years that tested us in every way possible, and while we weren’t always happy with one another (I think at one point, we were both yelling with tears in our eyes, stressed to the max at some school crisis, taking it out on each other), we had to rely on one another to get through it. Through that time, we developed an unbreakable bond that has kept us close, despite the oceans and miles that separate us.

As only best friends can have, we have so many ridiculous inside jokes, stories, and nicknames that only we know. We can crack each other up by simply shouting any number of phrases that only we get-“Reeeeennnnnyyyy!” “Jammed up and jelly tight.” “You name the babies, I’ll name the dogs.” “Rascal!” “But we both know that you’re basic.” “Rock the Kes-Baugh!” “Beck-ster!” “At least yours isn’t refurbished!!”…and the list goes on and on!

In the past three years, during which time Michelle repatriated to Texas and I moved to three different countries, we have kept in touch with our regular FaceTime dates, text messages, and travel adventures. We’ve taken two cruises, a couple road trips to NOLA, and, most recently, a trip to Paris together. On top of that, Michelle’s spent the past few Christmases with me and my family. I know she’s going to be one of those people who’s always in my life. We’ll always find a way to see one another, even if it’s on another continent! (She’s coming to visit me in Jakarta in a couple of months!! Eeeeek!)

Today’s Michelle’s birthday, and as I look back over the past year, I couldn’t be more proud of her. This past year has been a roller coaster for her, and she’s had to handle more than anyone should ever have to, especially at our age. After deciding to move abroad again, and getting a killer job, something happened with the school and the job fell through. Set back, but not defeated, she worked hard to find a new job at a reputable school.

During the physical (a necessary step to obtain a work visa), her doctor found that she had a mass. A biopsy confirmed it was Stage 3 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The C-word. Something no one ever wants or expects to hear, but certainly not a young, active, healthy 30-something. Instead of feeling sorry for herself or giving up, she fought it. Taking on aggressive treatments and making changes in her life, she’s been able to greatly reduce the size of the mass. While it’s not gone, the doctors are hopeful that with monthly treatments, it will continue to shrink. She’s regained a lot of her energy, and has a positive outlook on her future.

On top of that, there have been other stresses that have tried to knock her down, but the fighter that she is won’t allow herself to be beat. She’s the strongest person I know, and she’s not going down without a fight! So today, on Michelle’s 36th birthday, I want to wish her the best day ever! This day, this year, is going to be your year. I can feel it. I love you and wouldn’t want to do this thing called life without you!

Happy Birthday friend!! 🙂 Love ya!!