Befuddled

At the end of each term the parting words used to be see you in Shanghai, see you in Singapore
These grad school mates would then fly off
to each of their home country.

Comprehensive exams,
Papers presented at conferences,
transcripts sealed and other documents released
A wedding, a divorce and one got engaged.

Tea and coffee, wine and liquor
Travel is prominent CV decor
Jobs, events, success they savor

On the first meet up after five years
Talk centered on research
That and a few milestones emerged:

The married are now chasing their kids
The divorced is dating again
The engaged looks in love to bits.

In the absence of the usual Marlboro
The air was clean in Agalico
But Screwdriver and Margarita
Are still occasional companions as Pina Colada

Goodbyes are no longer illustrated by see you in Tokyo
As was the dependent variable in Bangkok U
Must be the Bloody Mary, or the Pomegranate Martini

“See you on Facebook”
on Facebook….
Surely what has been cooking
Must be already cooked.

Still traipsing chili patches
Blame it then on Tequila Sunrise
or just despise the supplies

Clear the Purple Haze
And when they have a face
They just might ace the race.

Linked with Sunday Scribblings

More sense, more sensibility

When I asked CJ a few hours ago on the phone what was he doing, he said, “I want to eat lollipop.”  The rest of his replies gave me ideas for our summer plans.

Helicopter tour
I was ready to take a helicopter tour over Cambodia’s Angkor Wat recently but glad I didn’t because I wasn’t exactly interested in flying without CJ so for this summer I plan to re-plan the whole thing instead.

Jollibee birthday party
After Disneyland for CJ’s birthday last year, and a submarine ride the birthday before that, I want something he has never experienced before and that is a Jollibee party.  I am probably more excited than he is.

School and extra-curricular lessons
CJ’s psychologist recommended a school so I’m going to check it out.  Art, music and swimming are up on the list too.

Candlelight dinner
I want to date CJ in either East Asia Royale Hotel or Paseo del Sol before I fly back to Bangkok.  A lot of other interesting places came up on my search so these two are tentative, but I hope I can find one that will suit us best.

Read books
It is a family tradition but I want to read to CJ this time with more sense and sensibility (Jane Austen addict here :)).  Strickland Gillilan’s poem will be my summer reading motivation:

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.
I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.
I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be —
I had a Mother who read to me.

This post is linked with Mommy Moments

Reality stars

Blogger Bard says, “Discovery made, only scientists are true reality stars.”  A comment from Patti goes:

Scientists are indeed reality stars. They carry quite a burden knowing there is apt to be a bad effect as well as a good one from their inventions and discoveries. But they are scientists after all. I wonder if they even notice, or care.

I paused. A few scientists I know (socially and personally) happen to actually care.

What is your observation of scientists on the way they handle overall implications of results of their work?

Caring helps keep relationships on the right track, and impacts society in the long run.

This morning while strolling blogsville I came across a word that at times I thought was too secular for my liking. I had to look up it’s relative term to determine whether it’s ok to mention it. The word is “badassery.”  Chookooloonks coined the word then tweeted it and in answer to someone who asked what exactly is badassery, she elaborated that to commit to badassery is to be:

  • Someone who isn’t afraid to wish good things for herself.  Someone who believes she’s worthy of being happy.
  • Someone who isn’t afraid to make goals, and then once those goals are made, isn’t afraid of taking those first, tiny steps toward achieving those goals.
  • Someone who realizes that taking care of himself isn’t selfish or egotistical, but that sometimes you have to put the oxygen mask on first before you start helping others.
  • Someone who realizes that at his core, he’s a good person.  And that given this, when he makes a mistake, maybe he should go easy on himself.
  • Someone who, when bad things happen (and make no mistake, they will happen), will not spend valuable time thinking about who did her wrong, or why the world is conspiring against her, but will instead spend that time working through it by taking care of herself, leaning on friends as necessary, asking for help when needed, and treating herself as she would a good friend going through a similar situation.  Someone who, when life knocks her down, does what she can to pick herself up, dust herself off, and try, try again.
  • Someone who makes kindness to friends, people around him (like waiters and others in the service industry), and even strangers his primary focus; and who also takes care to surround himself and cultivate relationships with good friends who have equal focus.  Someone who is never afraid to speak his mind or his truth, but always does so with kindness.
  • And finally (and probably most predictably), someone who works hard at reframing the things that make him different, recognizing them as attributes that are sources of great beauty, and when used for good, maybe even superpowers.

This take sounds quite sane as opposed to a mind play sort of suggestion on how to be a reality star – “give a good back story. Nobody cares about the girl next door who grew up in the suburbs with loving parents; we want to root for the poor girl who had to grow up in foster care and work her way to fame and fortune. So be poor, beaten and illiterate.”

So didn’t I just imply the importance of caring? With that I am thinking of younger people in my corner (and even myself) who need to be reminded that they have to be responsible with what they are reading.  So many ideas could pelt one’s mind. It is important to glean what to believe in and be influenced with.

This post is linked with Week in Words

More than a medal

Dear fellow Mommies:

You wouldn’t be seeing any photos on my post today. This no-visuals effect is deliberate. There is something in my son CJ’s case that needs to be addressed more urgently than his K2 medal.  Just as importantly, I know you can read and I will appreciate it if you take a moment to read some info:

Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) is characterized by delays in the development of socialization and communication skills. Symptoms may include problems with using and understanding language; difficulty relating to people, objects, and events; unusual play with toys and other objects; difficulty with changes in routine or familiar surroundings, and repetitive body movements or behavior patterns. Children with PDD vary widely in abilities, intelligence, and behaviors. Some children do not speak at all, others speak in limited phrases or conversations, and some have relatively normal language development. Repetitive play skills and limited social skills are generally evident. NIMH

The phrases I highlighted are issues evident in CJ’s development. The first clinical impression did not differ at all from results of my own research – selective mutism. CJ’s developmental pediatrician wrote the exact same words on the clinical report. This year the new diagnosis, PDD tagged new recommendations to see a psychologist, a speech therapist and an occupational therapist.

Remember that purple ATM card featured on my post for the purple theme we had two weeks ago? Now you know the color was just coincidence and it was not  flaunted for vanity. Financing a child’s developmental issues is the purpose of that card I wish I never had to be involved with.  But I am trying to be brave here as I am doing this alone.

So do I ask, “why me, why my son, God?” or “why is CJ’s Dad NOT willing to pitch in?” Nope. My question is “Dear God, what am I supposed to do next?”

And God in His infinite capacity to be cool answers me before I could even send the next funds for CJ’s therapy sessions. My mother sent a long text on CJ’s progress:

-on a niece’s cooing baby, CJ observes, “She smiles.”
-pointing at an altar in a clothes shop, “Jesus is over there.”
-response to his Lola’s “where is Jesus?,” “There on the wall.”
-last night before falling asleep, “I want to ride a halicopter. Mommy will sleep here?”

Each day brings a new hope, new anticipation and a new resolve to learn continually and improve.  Thanks for reading. I welcome your thoughts.

How

When we define or describe, we answer the what. That is the easy part. We delve further to achieve understanding and that is where the answer to how becomes interesting. While brainstorming for a research project recently, I focused on what I was supposed to do – analyze.  But how? On chapter I of Investigating Communication, authors LR Frey, CH Botan, and GL Kreps explain:

Research Methods! To some people these words are intimidating, conjuring up pictures of scientists in white coats studying mice in a laboratory. Indeed, we asked a group of college students to write the first thought that came to mind in response to the words research methods. They said such things as “time-consuming,” “difficult,” “worth the crap?,” “boring,” and “Grade: C.” In contrast faculty members, when asked the same question, responded with “the pursuit of truth,” “planned investigation,” “proof.”

To quote the title character of the movie Cool Hand Luke, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.” Students don’t understand the full value of learning research methods. They see research as the province of the elite, as difficult or even impossible to master. This attitude is often validated, unfortunately, by how research methods are taught.

If we formulate a learning objective, we don’t merely say “To know…”  How do we know learners know? “A poem is a composition in metrical feet forming rhythmical lines,” yes but how do you compose? Imparting comes with a challenge of delivering how. It entails illustrating.  One fave example is a scene from the film Dead Poets Society (1989) –  John Keating showing his students photos of literary greats, hovering above their heads for effect and blowing these words  to their ears:

They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary

We differentiate. We assimilate. We reason. We demonstrate. We inspire. We:

… don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.

This post is linked with The Week in Words

New finds

“A time to look over our week, recall blessings great and small and pick our five favorites to share”

Visit Susanne at Living to Tell the Story for more.

1. Red Riding Hood and Black Swan. I liked RRH. The main character of BS is sick but the dance and music numbers are beautiful.

2. The 9th Cafe at Siam Paragon have all these yummy cakes. I chose chocolate swirl cheese cake. Their beef tacos are yummy too.

3. New Memes. I am having immense fun with:

  • Sunday Scribblings – a prompt is given and you are free to write whatever comes to mind. Participants share excellent posts. Some look like seasoned poets.
  • Scripture and a Snapshot – you share a verse that matches a photo. Exploring the beauty of biblical language is why I am enjoying this meme very much. (I was surprised to learn that my name is mentioned in the Bible).
  • ABC Wednesday – fun in writing and sharing photos
  • Monday Memories – remembering those memories and writing them down
  • Pictures of Life (Hulagway sa Kinabuhi) – started this week and is written in Bisaya, a dialect of the Visayans, an ethno-linguistic group in the Philippines. I provide an English version of my posts for friends or visitors who do not read Bisaya but might be curious. I participate in this meme to develop some translating skill.
  • The Week in Words – keeps me marking what speaks to me in my reading adventures

4.  New online finds: Book Blogs and meeting authors and novelists, Bibliotherapy, book trailers, art blogs – all riveting.

5. Sorting immigration stuff. A 90-day report and getting a re-entry permit tell me I am about to travel again.

Into butterfly’s wings

My reading adventures of the week:

During family gatherings I hear elders muse about an uncle’s Law practice: does he remain true and steadfast to his Christian beliefs while defending someone? Lately on Facebook, a cousin posted a shout-out saying Criminal Law was killing her. If she passes the bar she will be another lawyer in the family.  The oldies are sort of bothered. I am detached. Back in Blogsville I was returning a visit from a co-blogger when my thoughts took on a new turn while reading her post. She goes by the name Mama Zen

During his 15 years on death row, the defendant had become a Christian and started a thriving prison ministry. How nice. The attorneys arguing for clemency chose to focus on this angle to the practical exclusion of all else. In essence, they were trying to turn the murderer into a hero. Before I had even met the defendant, I had problems with this approach. First, it completely ignored the shortcomings of the original trial. Second, well, it glossed over an ugly truth. In my Bible Belt state, the conversion to Christianity might be given favorable consideration that would never be given to a big black man who became a devout member of the Nation of Islam. It’s unfair as hell, but I knew that it was the truth. That made me squirm.

After spending some time with the defendant, I was even more uncomfortable with his cannonization. It was all bull****. The man was a sociopath, pure and simple. A murderer who had blown people away with a shotgun to see what it felt like. No other reason. Sociopaths don’t “get better,” and they damned sure don’t become saints.

I shouldn’t have cared. A good attorney argues whatever will benefit her client; this is not a philosophical exercise. But, I did care. And, I recognized that I always would. So, I left the courtroom and never looked back.

A few updates are sent to me via email by a friend working with nukes. I appreciate not having to be subjected to heart rending images in the course of researching to get an idea of things. From JEH:
Japanese nuclear engineering frankly is quite simple in the overview of things. Their main problem stems from the fact that the cooling water system has broken down and the back up failed. In the UK we have what is known as a third back up which put simply is our own ground water bore hole system that can be tapped straight away from our own source. We incorporated the system to save money because it just comes up from the ground beneath our feet. Unfortunately the Japs do not have this and the reactor has heated up to dangerous levels of toxicity thus causing what they call a “meltdown.”  The NII have given this emergency as a level 4 nuclear alert. Chernobyl was given a level 7 and that was catastrophic as its release contaminated the whole western hemisphere.

In school, one motivation to love literature that our professors emphasize was beauty of the language.  To take my mind off troubles around I entered a gateway to a better world.  Here’s a phrase which paints a pretty picture, by Matsuo Basho, c. 1689 On Love and Barley: Haiku of Basho, no. 166 (translated by Lucien Stryk)

Orchidöbreathing incense into butterfly’s wings…

Unregimented

Prompt: free

 

Bombs would fall
You knew that.
Oil. Hello….
Pariah head in the 80s
nowadays as Green Bookish.
The arsenal in Tripoli
or those launching from the Mediterranean Sea
are no match to what you can let loose.
the unregimented legacy of  Zeus.
Positive nerve, will, tuition
Free them all to fruition.

Linked with Sunday Scribblings

Violins and helicopters

“A time to look over our week, recall blessings great and small and pick our five favorites to share”

Visit Susanne at Living to Tell the Story for more.

1. Loved ones are safe.  After watching a clip that showed Japan like it was 2012, I avoided everything that has anything to do with the destruction there until an aunt in NC nudged me about a cousin in Chibaken. That’s when I went asking how they were.  She and her husband, a fellow mommy blogger, and a former gradschool classmate are all ok. It’s good to release all the breaths I held while waiting for news about them.

2. J not getting sent out to Japan anymore. When the quake hit J was automatically among a team of scientists on standby, Fukushima-bound. Worry wart me prayed he won’t be flown out.  Jet-setting halfway around the world to lend expertise and then aboard Chinooks to work on those reactors may sound glamorous but the danger is so not glamorous at all.  I cheered when J told me it looked like he was staying after all.

3. Brunch at Robin Hood. Calamari yummy; margarita rosita. Chips, football and British accent felt like brunching in front of Windsor Castle again.

4. Attending a screening at the FCCT (Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand). Living with the Tiger is a documentary about HIV-infected orphans. Q & A with the filmmaker and the director of the Business Coalition on AIDS explored possibilities of influencing policies for better handling of the AIDS issue in Thailand and beyond.

5. Violin recital at TCC (Thailand Cultural Center). Great Artists of the World 2011 and Bangkok Symphony Orchestra presented Cho-liang Lin.  He played Mozart and Tchaikovsky on guess what – a 1715 Stradivarius!  Ah some of  life’s most beautiful moments; later something to daydream over tea in a rickety rocking chair.

Therapeutic moaning anneals national neurosis

These are my reading adventures of the week.

From Wendy Bancroft , a comment she posted in Bibliotherapy group on Book Blogs:

…how do you help a child to learn about the tension between protection of brother and desire to right an injustice….and the potential of hurting another in the process?

My observation – The question distinguishes two ensuing means to an end.

From  Alex Stevenson in his article Royal Wedding: Even cynics will be cheered up, on Yahoo Politics, UK.  According to popular anthropologist Kate Fox, whose book Watching The English remains one of the best recent analyses of our national character,

we can all be relied on to engage in a bit of ‘mock-moaning’ whenever the opportunity arises. “In all English moaning rituals,” she writes,” there is a tacit understanding that nothing can or will be done about the problems we are moaning about… our ritual moaning is purely therapeutic, not strategic or purposeful: the moan is an end in itself.”

My thesis: Therapeutic moaning anneals national neurosis.

Elaine’s doublet “from HATE to LOVE,” on Hidden Heartbeat:

it’s such a big word HATE and to remove hate from this world
you will need to HAVE a force much bigger and stronger. so look up higher, above HOVE from “hova” the hebrew word for Jehovah, who is God. God is LOVE and pure agape love is much bigger than hate could ever be.

My inspiration: clever does it!

This post is linked with Week in Words