New Blog: Let's Talk Politics

I've never been a very politically-minded person, but if anyone's been to this site lately, he'll notice I've been writing more and more about the political situation in Thailand - something which worries me a lot.

Maybe I need to take a break from news reports, but lately the goings-on back home have seeped into my daily life, filling it with discomfort and anxiety - and the desire to speak out about the topic.

To that end, let me introduce to you my new blog, Land of Smiles, which, at the very least, exists as a place for me to vent my thoughts and feelings before I lose my mind.

As I write in my first post, this blog is "an attempt to make sense of Thailand’s political turmoil, as well as to document the experiences of the Thai American community in Chicago as their homeland is in the grips of this mass unrest."

If the matter interests you, check it out and feel free to engage with me on the subject. If you have Thai American friends who are also concerned about what's happening, please shoot them the link. I feel like there's a lot of discordant information out there, and I'd like to process it with other concerned, conscientious people.



Land of Frowns, Part IV

As the situation in Bangkok looks bleaker each day, I'd like to share something that made me smile for once. It's a reception speech from an awards ceremony like the Oscar's, and I'm glad Thai celebrities are speaking out:

"Because [the role I played] had to do with fatherhood, I'd like to take this opportunity to speak about dads. Dad was the pillar of my household. This household was a large one, a very large one. Growing up, it was beautiful, beautiful and full of warmth. But before the household could be that way, my father's ancestors had to pour their sweat, pour their blood, and exchange their lives to build it. Even today, this dad tires himself looking after the household as well as the happiness of everyone in it. If there is someone angry - I don't know whom  - or dissatisfied with dad - for I don't know what - and takes it out on him; if he hates dad, if he scorns dad, if he wants to drive dad out of doors - I would walk up to that person and say, 'If you hate him, if you don't love him anymore: get out of here.' Because this is father's household. This is father's land."

I assure you, the speech is more rousing in Thai. On a side note, the man shown wiping his eyes is an old movie star, the heartthrob of my mother's generation.

Today I went with the Fine Arts Institute to hear the Thai ambassador speak at Wat Dhammaram in Chicago. They carefully avoided opening the floor to political questions until after the main event, probably because there were lots of children present. Later though, as most of us were eating lunch in the cafeteria, I heard a group of Chicago Red Shirts were accosting the ambassador. This was relayed to me by one of the other volunteers:

"I was in the auditorium just grabbing my jacket and overheard some of their questions. What they were asking was nonsense - sheer ridiculousness! 'When will the government stop killing the people?' I nearly raised my hand and said, 'Excuse me, but if the people would go home, do you think the government would follow and shoot you in your beds?'"

The Red Shirts got what they demanded last week - the government agreed to general elections in November - and announced they would accept the Prime Minister's reconciliation plan. The next day, however, they recanted and continue to occupy downtown Bangkok. Last I checked, they set a garbage truck on fire and burned piles of tires in the streets. Over twenty people have been killed in the latest round of violence - all of them civilians. So much for peaceful protests.


New Housing?

Besides finals, for a lot of my friends the end of the semester also means changes in housing.

Since my lease is up in October, I'm on a rather strange timetable compared to everyone else. The plan was that, since I'll be done with school next June and moving on to other things, it doesn't make sense to renew my lease in the city for another year. Instead, I'm supposed to move in with my mom for the remainder of senior year and spend October 2010 - June 2011 at home. It's the financially conservative decision, if not the most fun.

However, a group of my friends are looking to renew their apartment for next year and need another room mate. If I signed with them I would have a place from June-June, the time slot I need, with the added bonus that I love their place and crash there almost once a week already.

Actually, this new option makes a lot of sense, because my current room mate has a cousin who wants to take my spot and it's awkward for him to wait till October to do so. If I moved out in June (or even in August, which is possible), he would be here for fall semester, I would have a place in the city for the time I need, and everyone (except maybe my mother) would be happy.

Trouble is, there's a lot of moving pieces, not least of which is convincing my mom to fund another apartment. If we're concerned about the cousin moving in by fall semester, the financially sound decision would be to move me home in August without any talk of a different apartment. Charging "The House" to represent my living situation, I did a quick reading:

Bear + Gentleman + Flowers + House + Cavalier + Key + Tree

Bear + Gentleman = A man who's not in complete control of his life, who owes financial considerations to another person.
Bear + Gentleman + Flowers = A man caught between financial responsibilities (The Bear) and social desires (The Flowers).

I think this aptly describes my situation, since I'm really under the financial jurisdiction of my mother at the moment. Even though I realize living with her is the practical thing to do, nevertheless I want to stay in the city with friends.

House + Cavalier + Key = The Cavalier means "movement" and the Key says, "Yes!" so it seems like some sort of change is inevitable that was not part of the original"stay till October" plan.

Key + Tree = The Tree as the final card makes me think the chances of moving with my friends are unlikely. The Tree is about stability, putting down roots, and long-term considerations. This seems to go against moving anywhere else but home, since getting another temporary lease is volatile and unstable. Or does it mean I'll finally find a plan and stick to it?

There's something to be said about doing simpler, more straightforward readings in the future. In any case, I'll discuss my options with my current room mate and with my mother as well.