Maiello: Defeat the Press
Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Now that I’m officially not with you anymore, I miss you. Is that weird? I thought I’d share some pictures (down below) and thoughts about life away from the craziness of the United States during election season. I still read the political news and I still spout off about it on Facebook, in short rants. The nice thing is that I feel so detached. The political situation here is in some ways better and in some ways worse: Malaysia has its issues. But as a non-citizen and a temporary resident, I don’t care that much.
What I do care about are the people that I work with. They are wonderful. It’s not an easy thing to accept a foreigner who comes to your school and questions everything you’ve been taught about how to do your job—especially when that foreigner is younger than you or has fewer years’ experience. I’ve been able to build trust so that we can work together and that is just a gift that keeps on giving. Like today, for example—a teacher took some ideas I gave her and planned a lesson. Then, she ran the best class I have seen since I got here. She was so happy and proud of herself, which made me happy and proud as well.
I have found it, so far, not possible to have a bad day at school. When thirty-six eight year olds start to cheer when they see you walking toward their classroom, I dare you to be anything but happy. It would defy the laws of physics or something. I’m pretty sure there’s research to back that up.
There are challenges, but they have more to do with administration, as they usually do. Those challenges are for the afternoon, when I get home from school and check my email. So, sometimes I get frustrated or even angry, but then I sleep. And every day, I pop out of bed again, excited to be heading for a morning of joy.
The holidays are pretty amazing as well. I think I have something like 12 weeks off this year. It’s okay to hate me a little bit. I’d hate me too, if I wasn’t me. The great thing about life as an expat in Southeast Asia is that I have the money to do things I’d never be able to do at home—because things are cheaper here in general and because I am fortunate to have an income far above average, which was nowhere near the case in the States. Also, I live in a place where it’s kind of hard to spend money—the most expensive dinner in my village costs about US$2—so I don’t feel so bad if I go away for the weekend and drop a hundred US or go on holiday for a week and drop three hundred. It’s rarely more than that.
I do think, however, that I’m getting a little complacent about the beauty that surrounds me. When I first moved to Asia and started traveling, the scenery literally took my breath away and sometimes even brought me to tears. Now, it all seems so normal. I’m hoping to recapture that sense of awe in a couple weeks when I head for the beach featured in the movie The Beach. I try to remember always how fortunate I am and how different my life was just over two years ago.
Which brings me to my final point: What the hell is going on over there? When I left, President Obama was just starting to deal with a divided Congress and the economy was in the tank. The Tea Party were the talk of the town and John Boehner was so happy he was crying pretty much every time somebody turned a camera his way. The big culture war issue was gay marriage, which was on the long, slow road to justice. Two years later, President Obama is trying to figure out how to deal with a divided Congress, the Tea Party is rebelling against the Republican establishment (to my constant amusement), and gay marriage has come a couple of kilometers down Justice Road. At least one thing has changed—I bet Boehner’s feeling some pretty intense “careful-what-you-wish-for” buyer’s remorse.
Even more strangely, Planned Parenthood, Girl Scouts, and vaginas are under attack. I know that white men run the Republican party, but do they not step outside and look around occasionally? Their group is getting smaller and smaller. They’ve been pissing off African Americans for decades and now they’ve started pissing off Hispanics. They’ve never been nice to gays or lesbians and they have no idea where to avert their eyes when somebody says “transgendered.” The abortion debate never ended, but there wasn’t that much to worry about since once the Republicans gained office on the backs of conservative Christian votes, they were too busy widening income inequality to worry about those pesky social issues. But now, for some utterly bizarre and intellectually unaccountable reason, they’re pissing off women. Do they not study voting statistics? Do they not remember the 1990s? Do they not have wives and girlfriends? As a group, we might be busy and distracted when peripheral stuff is happening, but “Sisterhood is powerful” is not just a slogan some bra-burner with spiky hair and Doc Marten’s made up in the heat of a pro-choice march. It’s an innate, almost electrical impulse that alerts us when some jackass starts messing with us, individually or collectively.
I’ve been watching, and participating, in the fun on Facebook. And I’ll be participating in the vote in November. Until the primary is over, I can’t wait to see them dig themselves further and further in on this personhood, no birth control, attacking women’s health bullshit. After that, I look forward to seeing them backtrack to try to convince women that they were just kidding and we have nothing to worry about.
Good luck with that, assholes. I’ll be at the beach.
This is where I work out. Remember, I said it's okay to hate me.
Batu Caves - an important Hindu temple with lots and lots of stairs!
Chinese New Year at Budha Las Vegas, better know as the Kek Lok Si temple in Penang.
Sunset at Langkawi Island