Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rejected Furniture, Health and Flight Plans

Some random thoughts as I am now at T-minus 82 days before boarding my flight to Thailand.  

I just had the Goodwill REJECT my donation of a couple pieces of furniture!  My old chaise lounge and a desk chair dating back to the early 90’s had been in the storage shed.  Last year, the shed sprung a small leak.  I found evidence of rodents of some kind were living in there.  So, the chaise and desk chair had gotten somewhat besmirched.  
The Goodwill guy said they can’t take furniture that wasn’t in “good condition” or was “dirty”… Mine was both.

I’m going to clean them up and try again.
I wanted to say, “do you realize how many thousands of dollars worth of stuff I’ve dropped off here over the last couple months?!?!   Gimme a break!”
Well, at least state recycling law required them to take the 42” Samsung projection DLP TV that was only 18 months old when the bulb went out.  Even then, it’s junk not worth fixing.

 I’m starting to plan my meals around using up the reserve larder of food in my pantry.  You’d be surprised how many ways you can combine Top Ramen, gravy packets and Rice-a-Roni.


I set up a doctors appointment for next week where I’m going to a get a pre-departure complete physical.  As my ultimate goal is teaching in Indonesia, and they require both an HIV test and a letter from a doctor in the country of origin (they don’t trust their own doctors?) that one is in “good health” before they’ll grant a work visa, I am going to be requesting both of those too.  They need to be translated into Bahasa Indonesia (the language of Indonesia).  Thank heavens for Google translate as it might be hard for me to find an in-network Indonesian doctor here in Seattle.

I’m not really all that worried.  I FEEL like I’m in relatively good health, but there remains this miniscule chance that I’ll be told, “I’m sorry, Joko, you cannot leave the country because you’re dying.”

The cool thing is that I’ll be seeing the same doctor who, after some blood tests relating to the psoriasis medication he’d prescribed me, told me: “Mr MacKenna, if you keep drinking the way you do, you will be dead in five years.”  That was five years ago.  I’m going to thank him for that warning, which didn’t sober me up right away, but has been something that’s remained part of my psyche ever since. 

* * *

As I’m gathering up the documents I’ll need for my work visa in Thailand, amongst things I need are employment verification letters from my last two employers.   

Well, my second-to-last employer and I did not part on good terms.  I took them to the state equal employment opportunity commission to protest their dismissing me for something that was not work related and was a product of a medically verified condition.  They can’t fire you for being sick.  Anyways, I lost that case, but I suspected that they might not be all that friendly to me in sending me documents at my request.  Not only did I get the letter I needed, but they sent it to me via registered mail at their expense. 

Hmm.  Good on them.

* * *

We’ve been experiencing perfect “I so want to leave this place” weather here in Seattle this month.  Temperatures in the mid-30’s F every single day, but without any of the enchanting snow that makes really cold weather otherwise magical and fun.  It's just been cold and dreary and tedious. 

* * *

I bought my airline ticket already.  Singapore Air (which I’ve flown before and had the best service of any airline I’ve experienced) will take me from LAX to Tokyo, then to Singapore and arriving at Phuket on 14th of April.  My ESL school is picking me up at the airport.   

The details of how and when I’m getting from here to LAX remain undetermined.  I suppose I’m going to drive to California, sell my truck down there somewhere and go from there.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Is the Grass Greener?

Something about the “grass is greener” effect occurred to me tonight as I was leaving the Tulalip Casino.

 I stumbled across a group of fellow casino-goers who were literally walking along with their mouths open, eyes wide, in utter shock and awe over the lights, sounds and atmosphere of the North Side’s biggest casino. 
Now, Tulalip has the look and feel of a medium-sized Las Vegas casino, and whereas I have trained myself to be single-minded in my dangerous hobby of gambling, these ‘yokels’ were taken fully in by the design of the casino operators to lull them into a sense of wonder and fantasy; into a world where losing hundreds of dollars is no big deal. 

Maybe they were from Missoula, Spokane or Puyallup. Boise, Lewiston or Eugene. Wherever.  Tulalip is 40 miles north of Seattle proper, but it was having just as much of an awe-inspiring effect on these folks as Columbia Tower, Pioneer Square or the Space Needle might… but Tulalip can be a lot more entertaining than those places.   
I wax poetically about Tulalip as I know it’s something I’m leaving.  There is no legal gambling in Thailand or Indonesia.  Now for those of you (okay, my mom) who are wondering about my vice of gambling in the first place, I’ll point out two things.  I only go there when I am out of smokes.  Cigarettes are $20/carton cheaper on the Indian Reservation than they are at my local gas station.  Gas itself is 20 cents a gallon cheaper too.  So, I figure I save myself $30 a week by going to Tulalip ($37 in savings minus the $7 round trip in gas it takes to drive there).  My average loss playing my game of choice 5% of what I bet. Last week, I walked away $130 up.  Tonight, $80 up. 

Back to the whole big-city thing. From time immemorial, villagers have been fleeing to the cities in search of a better life.  They seek the bigger, better thing.  The greener grass on the other side of the fence.  Also in that time, there have been lots of city guys like me, who seek the simpler life in the boonies.  The quiet, less stressful life.  My boonies are all the way on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, but whatever sociological forces compel me to seek employment in the Third World, I am not deterred by understanding their influence. 
Codemn me for 21st Century neo-colonialism because I can achieve a better standard of living as an ex-patriate than I can here in the USA.  So be it. Maybe I’m just moving to Asia because I will be much more likely to  find a hot young wife who will fulfill my carnal desires and bear my children.  That may be.  Then again, maybe I am just falling for the same Grass-is-Greener thing that I saw in the eyes of Yokels as the casino tonight. 
My life here sucks.  On whatever measure you want to base that on, it does.  I’m lonely. Poor. I feel powerless to make any significant changes to just skating along best I can as a middle-class, repressed American. 

Oh, that grass over there teaching in Thailand and Indonesia looks so good.  So green! Maybe I’ll get there and, like the yokels losing all their money in the casino, find it isn’t all I hoped it would be.
I know the grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence… or the Pacific.  

But What I do know after 42 years on this planet is this: the grass is as green as you want it to be.  The grass is as green as you SEE it.  You decide how happy you are!

I understand that more and more as a question my motivations for leaving America.  Yes, I could make things as good as I want them to be here just by changing my mindset, just by willing them to be so.  That said, nothing forces one to understand the true nature of the green grass, of what you stand on, than actually standing upon that grass.  That is why I want to move to Thailand & SE Asia.  

It’s because I want to experience the grass on the other side of the fence for myself.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Empty Bookcases

I've already written about getting rid of books.  Even made a video out of the process. Today, though, was different.  Today, I went "all in"... Or "all out"...

See this pic...

It may just look messy to you, but to me, this is profound.  This morning, those two bookcases were overstuffed with the product of 25 years of collecting books.  It's now empty.  I feel like a part of me was donated to Goodwill today.

Then again, I feel a little more liberated to create a NEW me, as I'm leaving old me behind.

And yes, I was re-heating lunch in the microwave when this pic was taken.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

An Ironic Song to Publicly Announce My Decision

I suppose that blogging about my decision is a very public way to go about this, but tonight was my first chance to tell a group of people I am leaving America.

Set to a somewhat ironic music choice too...


I thought I was going to retire there. I was the senior staff member. I'd been there longer than anyone. It. Is. Not. Fair.  But on the ...