I went to the beach. While I was gone, chipmunks ate all of my underwear.
“You are cooking some obscure pie for me. It is called q-u-i-c-h-e. I have never seen it before. On the bag it says:
Even Real Men Eat Quiche!
Quiche, q-u-i-c-h-e. I can’t believe it when I am swallowing this piece of shapeless hot stuff. Such an ambiguous piece of food. Totally formless. I wonder about what my parents would say if one day they come to this country, and they eat this. My mother probably will say: “It is like eating something from other people’s mouth.” And my father will say: “It must be left from earlier meal so they re-cook it but inside are already messed up.”
I will agree with my father: it is a piece of big mess indeed. You tell me it is actually from France. I don’t believe you. I think the English are too ashamed to acknowledge it is their food. So they say it is French to defend themselves.”
-Guo Xiaolu, A Concise Chinese English Dictionary for Lovers.
Almost all of the English language books about Thailand that I’ve found are either travel books or books about “expat adventures.” You’d think maybe a few of the latter would be able to capture the experience of being a foreigner integrating into Thailand, but they are unfortunately all unamusing and sympathetic so far. Fortunately, I’ve found this book by Xioalu Gu about a young Chinese woman moving to London to study English that I can strangely really relate to. Even though our experiences living abroad are almost the inverse of each other (east-west, teacher-student), it’s definitely one of the books I’ve connected with the most since being here because it captures the strangeness and uncomfortableness of being a stranger completely immersed in a new place, without being trite or obnoxious. The book is also written in a style that is meant to capture the narrator’s English ability, so it starts as nonsense English fragments and moves into more fluent language as time passes, which I love so much right now since I often feel like I can’t string three words together in Thai or English.
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach: Mary Roach is my favorite non-fiction writer and this book about NASA and astronauts is hilarious and informative. True facts I learned: Astronaut helmets have built in ‘snack bars’ with fruit roll ups and juice boxes. No human has ever had sex in space or in zero gravity. Dolphins have prehensile penises. And so much more.
Irin Carmon’s article on The Obama Administration and Plan B: “You’re disadvantaging young people, African-Americans, the poor- that’s the policy of the Obama administration?” The story of how a Reagan-appointed, right-wing judge took the Obama administration to task for trying to keep Plan B behind the counter. And it’s not just that the Obama administration is bring to make Plan B more difficult to purchase, they’re also inflating the price by continuing to renew and re-extend Teva’s patent. This effectively keeps Plan B at $50.00 a dose, whereas in Thailand, you can purchase the same exact thing for $1.50. Pretty disappointing.
“Heading to Hawaii for Dolphin Assisted Birth” from The Charlotte News Observer: Particularly terrifying in light of what I learned about dolphins from Packing for Mars.
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri: Jhumpa Lahiri is the best. This book of short stories about Bengali immigrants in New England is beautiful and perfect. I read it for the first time when I was in India several years ago and it still holds up.
Harry Potter: You already know all about Harry Potter. I already knew all about Harry Potter too, but decided to re-read all the books since they are the longest English books in my school’s library. Good decision. These books are just as good when you are an adult, maybe even better.
(Things I Read That I Did Not Love: Gone with the Wind. So much more racist than I remembered. It is good if you read it pretending it was intended as a satire of the South, but then it just gets really long winded.)