The Coffee Snob

13686668_10157190351990494_2355926673990244819_nMy husband is a coffee snob.

What defines him to be a ‘coffee snob‘?

Well, he will only buy local, freshly roasted coffee beans.

Prepares it by grinding the beans every morning. He would NEVER buy them pre-grounded! GASP.

He drinks it black without destroying it with add-ins. Black is the truest form it’s meant to be consumed. If you do add something to your coffee in his presence, you will be mocked. You were warned. But if you take it black, you will be praised for your exceptional taste!

One afternoon, Caleb made me a hot cup of coffee as I was dozing off for a nap. An hour later, I woke up to a glass of ice-cold coffee. Of course, a coffee snob could not waste a good cup of coffee. I was so grateful for my husband’s care, and the drink was refreshing.

A few hours later Caleb inquired about the ice that what is in the freezer. He said to me, “What’s up with the ice in the old ice cream container? And why is it discolored?”

I replied, “What ice? You mean Geshem’s home made slime experiment?!!

Caleb with a laugh, “OH! I thought it was just ice. I chiseled some of it out for your iced-coffee. Whoops.”

WHATTTTTT??? Seriously, you served me iced-coffee with borax & glue?!?!?!?”, I said in shock.

He responded, “Well, it tasted good. Did you taste anything wrong?”

Me, “No. I mean, I don’t think so? But still?!?!”

Caleb concluded with confidence, “Ya, you are fine. If it tasted it good, then you are fine.”

So there you have it. My husband who is a COFFEE SNOB14572253_10207506195029038_7001663095693357417_n

I don’t trust COPS anymore.

I was raised in the U.S.A to believe that policemen were the safest people. Someone I could put my trust in. Someone I could depend on in crisis. My interactions with policemen were few and far between. But overall my experiences verified that they were safe people. (I should mention that I had my fair share of run-ins with the police. Back in my hooligan days.)

Now I live in a culture where the policemen are a complete joke.

Recently I have been in a situation to help a friend escape from her abusive boyfriend. There was some serious abuse going on that involved their children too. So in this case, turning to the police was a must for her and the kids to get out.

The policemen that helped provide a “temporary restraining order” got annoyed with Samara and I for the request. They asked us why are we getting involved, and it’s NONE of our business. They were not pleasant to deal with, and mostly we didn’t feel safer afterwards.

Later the abuser came to our house to have an altercation. Thankfully he left our property without too much drama. But Samara called the police to notify them of the scenario that just took place. Several phone calls later, and we realized there would be no action taken.

No help. No hope.

This is the same police force that sets up routine traffic stops. At these stops they will inconsistently enforce the use of helmets on motorcyclists, check for expired vehicle registration, and for valid ID. Tourists will get flagged down to be investigated if they have proper ID as well. Racial profiling is a must to ensure financial gain.

That brings me to my next point. This police force depends entirely on bribes, and payments under the table. Corruption is its foundation. This corruption has the whole culture tangled up in its web, and it’s inescapable.

I have had many experiences in my new culture that has eroded my trust in policemen. Power is abused by men everywhere. I now question the facade of safety in policemen. I am angered by the injustices of what men in “power” do to the lessers.

I can understand the feeling of mistrust in America, because I have experienced such a mistrust here.

In spite of all this, I still have hope in humanity. We have had pleasant interactions with retired police officers in our neighborhood. Maybe I should D.A.R.E to trust in policemen again. One of them at a time.

 

Tracy Strong

Strong is an adjective often used to describe me.

I am strong.

In my life, my strength can be witnessed physically, emotionally, spiritually and through my personality. Heck! Even my name is strong–the root of the name “Tracy” means: courageous, warrior, bravery or harvester.  So in living up to my name, I can happily boast that I am strong.

I cannot get away from it. It is who I am.

…but lately my strength has been put to the test.

Living overseas is no small thing. Teaching a classroom full of Thai preschoolers takes a lot of energy. Raising children and having community life cross-culturally is difficult. Being married to a ‘cult-leader’ has its challenges as well…

My strength is tested through all of those challenges, but none were a worthy opponent to my inner strength.  That is, until, my health challenged me to a duel…


Last year, after returning to Land of Smiles from our visit to the States, I realized that I “maybe” had some health issues.

I started having severe sneezing fits. I would sneeze up to 50 times (no exaggeration) before stopping. I would wake up in the middle of the night because of them–I had to keep a box of tissues next to my face while I slept in order to plug up my nose and fend off the impending attack.

Tissues became my new best friend, my trusted ally, my secret weapon and I needed them wherever I went. I comfortably strutted around Thailand with Kleenexes shoved up both nostrils in public and I didn’t even care! These Kleenexes were my defense against the attacks..

This went on for months. I averaged more than 100 sneezes a day. But I’m strong. I can handle this. No big deal. It wasn’t until Samara pointed out how long these attacks had been going on and advised me to go to the doctor that I considered getting help.

I took her advice and went to an Allergy doctor to get some answers.

Turns out I am allergic to grass and dust mites905922_10153683810093454_2073150188490368886_o

The doctor told me that I needed to start getting “immunotherapy”, which is a big word for weekly allergy shots for a year. These shots give me a small dose of what triggers my allergies so that I get used to the allergens.

It’s been 10 months of getting my “immunotherapy” shots. I go to the local clinic down the road from our house and get to interact with all the country folk in my neighborhood. It’s a different experience every time. These people look at me in shock, surprised to see a foreigner at their local doctor joint–though I am the only regular patient. I’m there every week. At this point the doctor doesn’t even take me behind the curtain; we’ve grown quite comfortable with each other. When it’s finally my turn she simply injects the shot in my arm in front of all the waiting clients and then I am on my way–Another weekly shot, done.

I can happily say that I have defeated the sneeze attacks. Unfortunately, as this part of my health was getting under my control, other health issues started to want to fight. These symptoms pointed to my needing to make drastic diet changes: bye bye sugar. bye bye carbs. bye bye dairy.

Hello Tracy Strong.

My Husband is a Cult Leader

Recently our room mate, Samara has been obsessed with the Myers-Briggs personality types. So Caleb and I decided to take a free test online to discover what ours were to satisfy her craziness.

Caleb got ENFJ.

He started to read what his personality type description was, and it went something like this….

ENFJ’s are natural born leaders, charismatic, and full of passion. They are often politicians, coaches, teachers and cult leaders. They are firm believers in people. They are genuine people that walk the walk, and talk the talk.

Caleb and I both agreed that this personality type pegged him. But the one thing that stood out to me was that he could be a ‘cult leader’. Since the test, I have been referring to him as our cult leader.


Caleb the Cult Leader

  • Green juice. Caleb had ‘special’ greens shipped over so he could drink to better health. So the both of us drank this nasty sludge everyday–Samara had no interest in drinking the juice. One day Caleb told her, “You know. If you drink the greens every morning. You will probably get a boyfriend.” Samara obliged and drank the juice. Later that day she was asked out on date. So, as you can expect, Samara kept drinking the greens. Cult Leader-You must have a special juice.greens
  • Home Made Kefir Smoothies. Caleb makes a large batch of kefir yogurt with fresh cow’s milk every week. Then he makes a daily smoothie blended with fresh fruits for breakfast. Somehow our entire house hold drinks this smoothie now. He’s gone around, telling each individual in our household that they NEED to drink this smoothie because it will help your stomach. Even down to youngest of our family, Iris. Cult-ish.smoothie
  • Education Reform. One cannot hang out with Caleb for long before witnessing his passion for education. He physically lives to see education bring change in every person’s life, including his own. His zeal for education has infected our entire household. Samara who once vowed she’d never get a degree in education, is currently completing her Master’s in teaching English as a second language. For myself, I am in my 3rd year as a preschool teacher. Even Get (Our Thai teenage daughter) aspires to be a teacher. Caleb’s passion for education reaches far beyond our household as well. He carries this vision into everything he does, and it draws the masses to him. Cult-like behavior: group think. If you would like to read more about his ideas on education click here, and here.caleb
  • Marathon Running. Caleb has completed many marathons and triathlons. He enjoys physical activity and endurance sports in his daily life. I don’t have the same interests, but I love to cheer him on. Last year, Caleb was signing himself up to do the Lincoln Marathon. In a matter of a few minutes myself and Samara were all signed up as well. The following months we were ALL training for long distance running. Never. Ever. Did I think that I would log that many miles of running in my life! Culty. Following the leader without question. Just do it.11041556_10153276192468454_8349996012689712193_n
  • Community Life. This topic probably has most of our on-lookers thinking that we are a cult. There is truth to that because we have created a cult-ure in our community living.  We live life in community. We have our best friend, Samara that lives with our family of 4; two Thai teenagers, Joy & Get, and Dundee our dog. Recently I had a heart to heart talk with one of our teens. She bravely confronted me on some of my actions that were hurting her feelings. Which we talked through, and forgave one another. Beautiful, right? However, multiple times she told me how Caleb is greeeeat, and always happy–how she can talk to him so easily, and that he is her real Dad, and the lists goes on and on about how Caleb is so wonderful. Cult leader 101-charming the masses.340708_10150521539078454_825799722_o

I already drank Caleb’s Kefir-Cultured Smoothie this morning. I am a happy and obedient follower.

All joking aside, Caleb is one of the most passionate, idealistic leaders I have ever met. He authentically desires to see improvement in all people. He is ambitious, but not towards selfish ends. He feels personally responsible for making the world a better place: one person at a time.

ENFJ’s are the second rarest type of personality. I am so honored to be married to such a unique, motivating, and inspirational leader! I love you Caleb even if you are a cult leader.anniversary

 

 

 

 

 

In Honor of Teacher Gung

I looked down at my phone and saw that I had 2 missed calls from Samara. I thought it was strange but I didn’t think much of it. But then Caleb said he had missed calls from Samara too. So I sent her a text which began a text conversation like this…..

T: Hey, We are in a meeting.

S: Can you leave and call me?

T: No. We are in the back of the room.

S: Have you heard from Teacher Naam Rin?

T: No.???

T: Oh no! Did her mother die?

S: No it was Teacher Gung.

My heart dropped, the noises of the meeting went to a silence. The news of Teacher Gung’s death was a shock. I was in absolute unbelief.

My first response was to act calm and normal, thinking, soon enough this meeting will come to an end.

But it didn’t! Tears started to fall as the news started to sink deeper. I quickly and abrasively exited the meeting.

GASP!! Fresh air, I was out of the crowded space. However, in that moment, I was hit with the harsh reality that I had to get to Teacher Naam Rin’s side. I quickly changed the plans for my day, and started to prepare a new plan.

My and Samara’s plan was to go to Teacher Naam Rin’s house to help prepare food, clean and/or do anything to assist them in this tragic time. But once we arrived to her home our plans changed.

Generally funerals are held at the deceased person’s home. The first thing that you do when arrive to the funeral is to “wai” or honor the person that is dead. You will go to the casket, bow your head, say a prayer, and light incense.


I would like to break from the story and take a minute to mention that Teacher Gung’s casket was super fancy. I mean, the “coolest” casket I have ever seen in Thailand. His casket was literally inside a large air conditioned box as the family wanted to preserve his body because the weather was so hot.  This is quite unusual. I have showed this picture to lots of my friends and not one of my other Thai friends had ever seen one before.

shrimp

I also want to mention that you are not culturally allowed to smile in pictures at a Thai funeral. And check out those antlers.


After our “wai”, we were lead into another room. A newly built and air conditioned office and lounge space. This super luxurious, escape from the heat was reserved for close family members. Teacher Naam Rin left us in this room with various other relatives and went on with the funeral preparations.  Any offers to help were quickly refused with an insistence that we sit. So there we sat. And sat. And sat. And sat some more.

I learned so much in that LOOOOONG day of sitting.

It can be the most powerful act of love and sacrifice to just sit. To just be and to be present. Being present while others are grieving can move mountains in the relationship. This is what Samara and I did for 3 days. We sat.

The funeral ceremony has ended and a few weeks have passed since Teacher Gung’s death. Each time Samara and I go to study with Teacher Naam Rin we are confronted with his absence.

During my last study time with Teacher Naam Rin she spoke to me very seriously and said, in Thai, “I realized something important at the funeral. You are my family. We are comfortable with each other because we didn’t have to speak. That you could sit all day in my home, and be at peace, that means you are my family.”

I feel so honored to be called family by my Thai teacher.  That she didn’t feel obligated to host or entertain me while she was grieving, but just let Samara and I sit with her family. I write this blog to not only to commemorate Teacher Gung, but to say: never under estimate the power of being present.

Critters in the Crapper

I rush home from work to use my bathroom–this is a must with poop anxiety…

This particular day, it was one of those loads that was a double flusher with even a “normal” toilet. When I looked down–to you know, to examine my work–I realized there was a critter in my crapper.

It was a baby house gecko to be exact and somehow it found a way into the mix of my poop.

baby gecko

I didn’t know what to do!!!!??? All of sudden panic came over me when I saw the little guy trying to crawl up out of fecal wasteland. I had to do something.

This baby gecko had to die.

I am not one to want to kill little baby geckos–in fact we practically breed them in our home.  But, my thought process was that if this particular baby gecko were to survive its poop trauma, and re-enter into its gecko society, it would spread fecal matter all over my bathroom… heck, all over my house! There is no place that a baby gecko cannot go.

Death was its sentence. Sorry little guy.

So I start the first flush of my ancient of days toilet… but the little guy doesn’t go down.

SHOOT! [feelings of guilt start to enter…I feel bad. I am not a murderer.]

As I wait for my water tank to fill back up for the second flush, (remember… this takes about 20 minutes) I realize the little guy is trying to escape up the sides of the toilet.

NOOOOOO!!! This can not happen.

Naturally, I take the “butt sprayer” and spray the little guy back into the toxic waste.

You must stay with the waste little guy. Sorry this is your lot. 

It tries to escape a few more times, but the butt sprayer is too powerful for it’s tiny body. So it decides to use it’s next line of defense: playing dead.

The twenty minutes finally pass and it’s finally time for the 2nd flush–Little guy STILL doesn’t go down!

AHHHHH! At that point I am feeling horrible. The little guy continues attempting its survival via escape while I keep spraying the rushing waters of death back down on it.

Finally, the 3rd flush ushers the little guy into poop heaven.

This is NOT the first critter I have pooped on. There have been other casualties… but they are stories for other days.  But if you’re hankering for another ‘critter in the crapper’ story, may I direct you here.  Welcome to Thailand.

 

 

 

 

 

Smells like roses

Well this is my first official blog post, on my own blog site. Hooray!

I have decided that my first blog will be about poop. Yes, You read that right.

POOP.

First of all, I think that poop should be a topic more discussed about. It shouldn’t be so taboo. It’s something we humans experience in our daily lives. So I actually plan on writing several blogs about poop.

Now this could mean I will not have any more readers after this post. But it’s a risk I am willing to take. I believe people are generally interested in the topic of poop. If you are, please keep reading my posts.

For those of you who are completely appalled that I am writing about poop, please check out other blogs of different subject matters like: decorating house or paleo food recipes. This blog, is probably not for you.

Okay! So here we go! Poop! It’s such a FUN word to type.

This blog is about my poop anxiety.

Yes, I have poop anxiety. What this means is, that if I need to go ‘number 2’ in another bathroom that is not my own, I generally will get SO stressed about it that I will not be able to go.

I have traveled a lot. I have many stories about needing to poo… and then poop anxiety.

However, my most recent episode of poop anxiety started to flare up in my own bathroom.

Lately, my toilet and Samara’s toilet haven’t been flushing properly. For about the last two weeks our two toilets have been communicating to each other with special sounds. Our two toilets literally talk after we flush.

For example. Samara is in her bathroom. She flushes. Normal, right?

I am in my bathroom, doing my dootie… and my toilet just randomly starts to  splash its water around, making throw up noises. NOT so normal, right.?

Every time I hear and see my toilet water coming to life after Samara’s bathroom flush, I think, “Oh my. What is happening?? Is her feces going to spew up into my toilet!!???????”

That is so gross to think about, but are my honest thoughts. This has created poop anxiety inside of me.

The second issue I have is that my toilet is no longer flushing all of my poop in one flush. Now, I know this sounds not so bad. Like okay, Tracy, you can just flush it again. But mine is an ancient of days toilet that takes about 15 minutes to refill with water. So I have to shut the lid, (courtesy to others) hoping that I will remember to go back to flush for the second time. Surprise to another if I forget.

And even with the second flush, residual stool still sometimes remains. It’s just NOT all going down! EVER!!

These two factors have caused me to experience a lot of poop anxiety.

I want my toilet to have calm and peaceful waters

I want my toilet to eliminate ALL of my poo in one flush.

I  want a fresh, clear bowl of toilet water when I enter my bathroom.

So last night, my wonderful husband spent hours trying to cure my poop anxiety. He did so by running back and forth between the 2 bathrooms, pouring buckets of water and drain-o down, plunging, and literally sticking his arm down the poop hole.  We hope that my desires will soon be realized.

We shall see.