As so many things do, it all started with a muffin.
**Not technically muffins, but you get the idea.
Good Buddy Josh was already having a close-to-losing it moment. He was at the Phuket airport several hours before his scheduled flight back to Bangkok. He was tired, he was run-down, and all he wanted was to be home.
Air Asia would allow him to change his flight to the earlier one, but only for a fee, even though there were seats available. That wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, though.
That’s where the muffin comes in.
Josh is walking through the airport, feeling out of sorts and on the downside of that cursed culture shock curve, when he sees a bakery-type shop. He sees bread—ok—and cookies—ok—and…muffins. In wrappers. Which are not like the wrappers at home.
And in his head, this is the point when he loses it. He gets seriously pissed off and starts to turn all green and his clothes kind of rip because his muscles are bulging out and he thinks, THAT IS NOT HOW MUFFINS GOOOOOOOOOOO! ARRRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH!
Luckily, Josh was self-aware enough to pretty much immediately start laughing at himself and realize the ridiculousness of freaking out about a muffin wrapper. He went back to his normal color and went on with his life in Thailand and lived happily ever after.
As freak-outs go, that one was pretty mild.
And clearly I’m just trying to make myself feel better here, because I have mini freak-outs all the time, but I think that it’s normal to have freak-outs when you’re new to a country. (Hell, it’s normal even when you’re not new to a country—have you ever been in rush hour traffic in the Washington, D.C. area? Or tried to teach in a public school? If you don’t freak out because of either of those, you are super-human. Period.)
About two weeks ago, I could tell my freak-out time was coming. I could just feel it, because little things were starting to bother me that weren’t a problem for me before. I was becoming, mostly in my head—I hope—the dreaded expat whiner.
I could list everything that was getting on my nerves, but it would probably be easier to list what wasn’t getting on my nerves.
THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WERE NOT GETTING ON MY NERVES
- · Potato chips Nope, just wanted some cheddar and sour cream, which are impossible to find in this country.
- · Dairy Queen. Nope. Every time I went, they were out of what I wanted. Plus, no Georgia Mud Fudge, which is the best Blizzard flavor ever.
- · The BTS. Damn you, people, learn how to hold the pole without gluing your entire body to it! Gah.
- · The lovely weather. It was November. I do not want to be wearing shorts in November. I want to be wearing jackets and boots and frolicking in fallen leaves in November, not sweating my ass off from walking around the corner.
Yeah, so there was pretty much nothing that wasn’t getting under my skin, but I was holding it together pretty well. This was right before our trip to Vietnam, and I figured that a trip outside of Thailand would only help to alleviate some of the stress I was feeling.
I mean: Bwahahahahaha! Because Vietnam? It’s what I imagine Thailand was like before they had, you know, things. And any sort of even pretend traffic laws. Traffic laws in Thailand seem to be kind of like a general idea that people may or may not follow, but in Vietnam the idea of traffic laws is even more general, and the general idea is: Every motorcycle in the world must come together in the exact intersection you want to cross and then not stop, no matter what, especially not for pedestrians, a red light or other oncoming traffic.
So we’re walking around Vietnam our second day there and I’m having a great time. Vietnam is awesome! So vibrant! And the people are nice! And the food is delicious! And the coffee is—words cannot describe! And the bread! The cheese!
Then I get tired and hungry, and you do not want to know me when I’m tired and hungry, believe me.
I’m walking down the sidewalk—oh, excuse me, I mean, I’m trying to walk down the sidewalk. At first, I thought it was charming that the sidewalks were taken up by all sorts of things spilling out from the shops, so you have to walk out on the street.
Then, all of a sudden I snapped, and in my head, I turn into the Hulk and I’m like, RESTAURANTS DO NOT GO IN THE MIDDLE OF SIDEWAAAAAAAAALKS!!!!!!! ARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHH! WHY LIKE THIS, VIETNAM? WHY. LIKE. THIS?!
After my little outburst, I had to take a break from being in the world and sit in the quiet, air-conditioned hotel room for a little while to read. I was okay after that, and I went back to finding everything (mainly) charming.
So, coming back to Thailand ended up being quite a relief, because while the sidewalks are a mess, at least in my neighborhood, you can usually get by the restaurants pretty easily.
Also, Thailand has so many 7-11’s, it’s not even funny. Blessed, blessed 7-11, where you can get whatever you want whenever you want it!
Not Losing It: 1 Megan: 0
People, sometimes you need a breakdown, or a freak-out, or whatever, to get yourself through the day. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!