Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A-Mah, Mo Giang, Mo Kong.

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012; 19:02
Location: Dong Nai, Vietnam
Why: A-Mah, rest in peace. You will find your way home to us.

A-mah, where do I begin? How do I tell you what you meant to me during your time alive? I sit in your room, look around and all I see is you. You are everywhere and now you are nowhere. Except down there. Or up there. I don't know where.

You didn't wait for me. I asked you to, remember? I said I'd get on that plane and be there in a few hours but you said 'No, granddaughter, finish your course'. Why? I was going to bring you those sour candies you requested.

A-mah, last night, we lit a trail of candles for you to come home at 7th Uncle's house. A-mah, don't be scared. You will find your way home. A-mah, I flooded your light with my tears. I am in pieces. I am heartbroken. I am silently going crazy with grief.

A-mah, you used to walk me to school. You fixed me butter and sugar sandwiches which had me wired for hours. You made me a peanut butter and jam sandwich every single day in fourth grade. I never got sick of them until one day I got a bleeding nose from eating it so much. Do you remember?

So many questions I still had to ask you. So many laughs I still wanted to share with you. Your toothy golden grin was one of the things I loved most about you. No one had ballin' gold teeth like you. You were definitely one of a kind.

A-mah, I miss you beyond belief:

A-mah, you hugged me when I had nightmares when we lived at apartment 305. A-mah, I still want to 'dup ew gwhat' for you. I'll even 'karate chop' your back the way you like it, dollar or no dollar.

A-mah, I'm sorry for all the times I was a brat to you. I'm sorry for all the times I thought I hated you. I never truly meant it. You were my A-mah, no matter what you said about me. I forgive you too.

A-mah, I watched your funeral last night. I am touched by the hundreds of people who paid their respects. You were that 14 year old girl from China who escaped to Vietnam and touched so many lives along the way. You leave a legacy of 32 grand children and 30+ great grand children. And that's only the blood part!

A-mah, I went to see A-Goong today. He misses you but was happy knowing me and Day came to see you and him. A-mah, I have never seen A-Goong cry before. He is an old man and I see now how much he loved you.

A-mah, you are a part of my identity. All of our identities. We are reminiscing about the way you were and boy has it warmed our hearts with laughter. You sure knew how to push everyone's buttons! A-mah, Dad got to spend the last 10 days with you, it was what you wanted.

A-mah, I won't say good bye to you. We are Chinese after all and we say 'Joiy geen'. So I will see you again, but not yet. I will Joiy geen nay.

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Painful Journey of Self Expression

Lundi 13th Fevrier, 2012; 21:56
Location: Dejavu Tattoo Studio, Chiang Mai Thailand
Why: Murderously beautiful flashes of red and putting off homework.

I should be writing in my Foreign Language Journal, it's been three weeks. But right now, I am procrastination at it's finest. I have been creeping Facebook profiles, chatting online with my sister and Anna, Youtubing Whitney Houston songs (RIP Whitney) and putting lotion on my legs. You know, all the typical procrastination shite that I can get really good at when the occasion calls.

It is the third week of TEFL school, I've got two teaching lessons this week, along with a skit I have to memorize in Thai. I'm sure I'm going to eff it up with the wrong intonations. I may be Chinese but I'm all Falang when it comes to speaking Thai off my chicken scratch notes.

Another fine procrastination activity I've been doing tonight is running my fingers over the fine artwork that now embraces part of my back side. And trying my damn hardest not to pick the parts starting to scab over.

Alright, alright, I'm sure you're dying to see what it is; I've only been eluding to getting some 'work' done for the past little while. But first, some context. I've been meaning to get this for years but was always reluctant because it was so common. I'd doodled around with what I thought should be the image I wanted to have on my skin, trying to keep with tradition of what this creature ought to be.

Not satisfied with anything I drew or came across, I thought screw this, I'm going to design it the way I think it should be. It is 2012. I turn 36 this year. The Year of the Dragon. The result is a mythological combination of eastern and western divinity.

I had posted a snippet of this creature back in December but here is the finished drawing:

My back pre-ink. It's like a blank canvas, how exciting!

Got totally side tracked chatting with the lovely Toto...okay, gotta finish the post so I can stop procrastinating on TEFL homework. Sheesh...

On a balmy Saturday night two days ago, I sauntered into Dejavu Tattoos in the hip little area frequented by Falangs looking for the Reggae Bar. Yep, it's next door to Dejavu. After meeting with the artist and confirming the design details, I got on the ink gurney for a four hour excruciating journey of self expression.

Stenciling the outline of Red Dragon:

 The artist setting up his work station. It's all very fascinating for me:

And the pain begins:

Work in progress. This never gets any less painful:

The fourth hour was the most painful hour. I'm talking tears in my eyes and squeezing the pillow after each needle dug into my ravaged skin. I silently screamed in that last hour with wild, masochistic thoughts of murdering everyone in revenge for my suffering. I can be unnecessarily dramatic with myself sometimes.

Funny thing is, the studio's motto is "No Pain. No Gain". Fitting.

Enduring the last hour as the red and orange colours were permanently injected into me:

Murderous thoughts aside, once the last of the colour was bestowed upon me, I let out the biggest sigh you can imagine and clumsily got off the ink gurney. A wave of nausea washed over me as imaginary birds danced around my head.

Once I pulled myself together, I walked over to the mirror to inspect the work. Stah-nning:

Some people have asked me why I do it when it's so painful. I don't have an answer. Ask if I will get any more done. Hmmmm, I have another appointment this Saturday. I think I have an addiction.

My Foreign Language Journal is due in a few hours, correct spellings and all. And all hand written. I have become the Procrastination Queen at this point.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Swimming With TEFL Sharks and Geeking Out to Pens

Dimanche 5th Fevrier, 2012; 23:23
Location: Chiang Mai Thailand
Why: Schools, pens draw-rings. It's all happenin' in CM.

After reluctantly leaving Melaka, I made my way to KL's LCCT to catch an early flight up to Chiang Mai.
Getting into an airport at 2:30am is not exactly fun. And with a 06:55 departure, I had to find a spot on the very crowded floor to steal some Zzz's.

Appropriately prepared backpacker style. I even found some cardboard to lay under my sleeping bag. I love traveling:

Onward bound.

A couple of hours later, I land at CNX, hop in a taxi and made my way to the mansion - my living digs for the month as well as the TEFL training locale. Sweet. But, I did a serious FAIL and left my trusty digicam in the taxi. ***waves fists in the air at self*** and SMH.  That's "Shaking My Head" for anyone not hip to them beats. Okay, I just recently learned that one from my hip kid sister....

Just breathe and let it go, I said. This was after I went outside and screamed like a mad woman while waving fists in the air. It was dramatic. The receptionist was a little scared.

I'm all sorted now and the proud owner of a snazzy pimped out version of my Canon Elph. My travel fund wasn't so happy though. Sorry TD Bank, these things happen.

Right, so I'm back in Thailand's kick ass northern city. Bombing around on the red songtheaws, I am delighted to be back here again. I am craving some Muay Thai training and looking to get some more ink done. I have an appointment next Saturday. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I survived my first week at TEFL school with my first teaching lesson this past Friday. This course, they just throw you right into it, sink or swim. Apparently, I not only swam, it seems I walked on water. No, I am not bragging. I'm still shocked at the incredible feedback I got from my observer, Paul H - a dead ringer for a British Joe Pesci. Who knew this gal has a knack for teaching. Hmmmm, I shouldn't get too confident, it's only been one week.

On my way to our first teaching class and hamming it up for the new camera:

My TEFL class is small, there's only 12 of us. One of the best parts is Anna! We met in Bandung and with similar goals, decided to take this course together. Did I mention how much I love traveling?

Two Falang Asian backpackers turning heads at the Sunday Night Market:

On the drawing front, dunno when I'm going to finish Solseng's Challenge. I'm stuck on Day 27 - Draw Someone You Love. Should be easy right? Wrong. I love so many people.

So, instead, I've been scratching away at Davie's Challenge.

Day 4: Draw Something Melting:

I discovered the new camera can take Fish Eye effects!!

While geeking out to the 4 Asian Gel pens I purchased, this was the result, fish eyes n' all - Draw Flowers Using Only Straight Lines:

Tomorrow's class: Grammar. No, not Kelsey. I'm so clever. Grammar was sooo Grade Five. It's been a looong time. **gulps**