Thailand [Part 1]

We’re back from Thailand! In fact, we’ve been back for a while, but I was too jet-lagged and distracted to do anything of consequence. My computer is on its way to computer heaven if I don’t get the new Mountain Lion operating system soon. It takes me like 45 minutes to load a page on Safari (it’s the only browser that will work with my old MacBook now). I feel like I’m using dial-up. (Edited to add: I have Mountain Lion now! It’s awesome.)

Anyway, Thailand was a grand adventure. Hands down, best trip I’ve ever been on. Lots of exciting things happened. So, let’s review with the first half(ish) shall we? After 16 hours of flying and a two hour layover in Seoul, we landed in Bangkok around midnight. We payed too much for a taxi and headed to our hotel. We promptly passed out.

The next morning (about 4 hours later) I was awoken by the repetitive speaking of someone on the loud speaker at a local temple. It was like a city-wide broadcast in Thai. Murderous rage ensued as I thundered around the room exclaiming, “REALLY?!” as I located my headphones and other sound muffling devices. Not much luck and we finally headed to breakfast and into the city to store our bags and wander around Bangkok before catching the train that night to Chiang Mai.

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We ended up getting approached by some Thai man who basically gave us a whole agenda for the day out of the goodness of his heart (or maybe a commission from his tuk-tuk driver). Either way, we were off on a river cruise!

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Ok, more like a gondola ride, but whatever. The water was quite smelly and I’ve heard it’s pretty contaminated, so I tried to avoid the splash zone. We drove by several beautiful temples stretching up towards the sky, we went past a floating market, and really just ook in the city. It was a beautiful, hot blue sky.

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Eventually, we were dropped in Chinatown where we wandered, ate, and wandered some more. I had strawberries with pink salt – very weird, kinda good? I ate my only non-veg meal of fish balls (think meat balls) and I was pretty grossed out before I made it halfway through. I didn’t really like fish when I was a meat eater, but we were hungry almost to the point of delirium and didn’t know our options as veggies. So, fish happened. Bleh.

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It was a few days after the Chinese New Year, so the city was buzzing. All the roads were filled with celebrations and we enjoyed just wandering and seeing all the new sights. It was another world, for sure. We finally headed back to the train station to take the overnight train to our first stop in our journey – Chiang Mai. We ordered train food which was slightly depressing and then just passed out.

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We were supposed to arrive around 8 a.m. in Chiang Mai, but it turns out there’s this thing called Thai Time, so yeah… we got in around noon. We quickly drove to our hotel, showered, and were out the door. I proposed just taking a nap and lounging, but Jesse had our schedule for the day out and was pretty adamant about us going to the temple we had planned for the day. I was so tired, I just threw on a maxi, put up my wet hair, and followed Jesse out the door.

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We were going to a temple called Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep on top of a mountain, so we had quite a bit of commuting. A tuk-tuk to the transport service, a truck to the top of the mountain, and then a load of steps to walk up. It was hot, I was tired, but it was another beautiful day and I was pretty filled with adrenaline. We were in Thailand and we weren’t going to sleep on a train! Hooray.

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We trucked up to the top of the steps, I covered my shoulders with my scarf turned shawl (can’t show shoulders at temples, it’s just not OK). Lots of cool things, a beautiful view of the city, and the realization we were finally on our vacation. Jesse suggested we start taking pictures now that we were officially on our trip and requested a photo from a German tourist walking by to snap us in front of the lookout point down into Chiang Mai.

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Little did I know as I was walking to the rail, Jesse had coordinated a special surprise with the photographer. We snapped the first photo and then Jesse said, “Let’s take a few more to make sure we get a good one!”

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The second photo, ended rather spectacularly. Jesse got down on one knee and said, “Will You Marry Me?”

After gaping in complete shock for a few minutes, I snapped out of my stupor and blubbered, “Yeahhhh!”

So, we got engaged in Thailand on top of a mountain. More to come.

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The Case Files: Silver Linings Playbook

I don’t really go out to see movies. My philosophy is generally TV > Movies (sorry, movie buffs) and any movie I want to see will be on Netflix or Amazon Instant Video (oh man, I love Jesse’s job). Plus, it’s become increasingly clear over the last few months that I’ve missed out on seeing like 95 percent of all the “greatest” films. I have a backlog.

But, I was going to see Silver Linings Playbook. I sort of knew what it was about, I love Jennifer Lawrence (duh, Hunger Games Case File), and it looked kind of quirky, dark, and romantic, which are probably the top three qualities that I look for in any movie to deem it a favorite. Once it was nominated for an Academy Award, Jesse said he’d go see it. Winner.

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HOLY MOLY YOU GUYS. Such (such!) a good movie. I may have some spoiler alerts in here, so don’t read ahead if you’re trying to see it.

So, it won’t be a traditional Case Files because these people aren’t real. What it will be, is a celebration that even if you feel a little off, a little weird, or a little crazy (I have felt all separately or in unison at one point or another in my life) then this movie will give you hope.

The plot follows Bradley Cooper’s character, Pat, after being released from a in-patient hospital after assaulting his wife’s lover, which he discovered after walking in on the two of them mid-coitus, while their wedding song was playing.

Ouch.

So, Pat nearly beats this guy to death and basically has what he later learns is a break with reality as a result of undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Upon leaving the facility, the movie chronicles his experiences in therapy (P.S. I don’t think this is a good representation of a therapist), his battle avoiding meds, his desperation to get his wife back, and his slowly growing relationship with Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), whom he befriends because 1) he doesn’t get much choice in the matter, 2) Tiffany can get in contact with his estranged wife (who has a restraining order against him).

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Tiffany, is also quite challenged. A widow who lost her husband in an ironic dose of tragedy, she copes by sleeping with anyone she can. Once Pat turns her down for casual sex, she ardently pursues a friendship with him, bartering Pat’s role as her dance partner in an upcoming competition, as a way to justify her assistance in helping Pat win back his wife.

That’s your short summary and I’ll avoid going into any of the more intricate details because I don’t want to completely spoil the movie or detract from how subtle somethings were that I feel really made the movie for me. There’s one scene that I just loved and it made me chuckle and smile from ear to ear.

Pat is visiting his friend’s house for dinner, who happens to be Tiffany’s sister. This is where the two meet. Tiffany knows Pat’s story, but the chemistry between the two is undeniable. Tiffany kind of owns her crazy and immediately begins probing Pat about his past. Pat displays some typical behaviors of someone who is unmedicated bipolar, in that he’s super impulsive, he barely has a filter from thought to words, and he’s just really erratic. The two begin bonding at dinner over which meds they’ve taken, discussing the finer points of Seroquel and Trazadone.

When you’ve worked in an inpatient facility (which I have), you become familiar with these meds. I’ve had countless clients explain the nitty gritty details of taking meds for a variety of reasons, but most of them rejoiced in the way they felt on their meds. Sleeping is easier and being awake is more difficult, but when you’re depressed or going through a tough life transition (death of a husband or new bipolar diagnosis), sleeping a lot has its perks.  It reminded me of my old clients and it gave me a nice warm feeling inside.

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Straight up, this movie (for me) was a commentary on mental health. Sure, I was looking at it through that lens, but I don’t think the message was lost on others who weren’t. When you realize your mind is different, whether you’re in a tough life transition, you have a mental health diagnosis, or you just feel a little… out of sorts, you immediately begin to worry about the likelihood you’ll lead a normal life and most importantly, find someone who will not only tolerate your quirks, but love you because of them. This movie proves something I’ve known for a long time; we don’t have to have it all figured out to find and feel love. Also, the more we find someone who can understand us, the more likely we are to be happy. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being perfect for each other.

Find someone who can call you out on your stuff and then help you get through it. That’s a partner worth sticking around for.

Home

So, Saturday was a big day. Jesse and I started out our morning eating leftover Christmas crumbcake, drinking coffee, and preparing ourselves to go rental house hunting. We had a couple of hopeful houses on our list, so we were feeling really good. The rental market here in Seattle is super competitive, so we also knew we might have to sign a lease that day.

I was really excited. Jesse and I moved in together when I started this blog (July 2011). We were a couple weeks shy of one year together, but considering we started dating living four floors away from each other and working together, we felt pretty good about this next step (we hadn’t killed each other yet). It was July 2011. I was super excited to try living with a boy (gasp!) who was my boyfriend (double gasp!). Then, Amazon happened and Jesse moved to Seattle on Dec. 1, 2011. It was nice while it lasted, though.

Flash-forward to a year later, I graduated from my master’s program and moved to Seattle. Jesse got a 13-month lease, meaning our lease for his studio apartment wouldn’t be done until Jan 31, 2013. Which means we’ve now lived in the studio apartment longer than we lived in our Florida townhome. It also means I don’t really feel like we’ve ever had a home. It also means I feel really cramped a lot of the time.

I believe our experience has generally been good for us. Because we’ve been through so much change and so many different environments, I believe it’s made us stronger. The distance did so much for my certainty in knowing Jesse is the guy for me, living with him in a tiny studio has reminded me what a great person and roommate he is, and looking for a home has really made me excited about our future. We want the same things out of a home and out of our life. It’s cool.

Anyway, after a full morning of looking in the dreary cold, we found the place we’re going to live! I’ll show you some pictures from the rental posting with the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Look at how cool and open it is!

It’s a real home! It’s a home I want to go directly to West Elm for and buy a bunch of overpriced pillows. It’s home I can see my friends and family staying in, our dog frolicking through, a warm fire, a happy cat, and a place where I feel safe and comforted. It’s a place where I believe Jesse and I will evolve and grow as people – together.

This is something I’m really excited about. It seems like a big piece of what I’ve wanted from this transition to Seattle is now in place. I feel like I’m growing up. It’s weird.