Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Leaves. A few weeks ago I was wandering about Paris. It was stunning. I took an obscene number of photos of leaves. Yes, leaves.
Living in Cambodia, there is not much difference between seasons. The options are pretty much rainy or not, hot or hotter. At least those are the only weather seasonal shifts.
There are always seasons of life. I have always loved autumn for that reason. Autumn teaches us how to shift seasons well. Never has death looked so beautiful as orange and yellow and red. Summer is filled with sunshine and fun and happiness. Then, autumn comes sneaking in. It smells so good and feels so crisp and looks so beautiful that we forget all these things are signs of dying.
But, dying doesn't have to be ugly. Dying can be beautiful. Sure, the death itself is usually pretty ugly (think barren trees, gray skies, and brown grass). However, the ugliness is really just a precursor for the beauty around the corner.
It was such an unexpected blessing for me to be able to enjoy the beauty of autumn this year. I loved crunching through leaves in my boots. I loved sitting on a park bench with a scarf around my neck smelling roasted chestnuts. I loved watching the leaves flutter to the ground. I loved the brilliant glow of the sun as it set. And, I loved realizing that the changing of seasons is stunning and meant to be enjoyed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Some things in life are just awkward. I feel like maybe I am one of those things. And, for the most part, I am completely ok with being awkward, but sometimes awkward equates to difficult.
Nearly two years ago, I moved to Cambodia. For the first several weeks it was pretty awkward. I did not know where I was, where I was going, how to do simple tasks on my own. I did not understand what was being said around me. I was left in awe walking through the "meat" section at the "supermarket" seeing things like pig intestines and coagulated chicken blood. (Seriously, what do you even do with that stuff?!?!) I stuck out like a sore thumb everywhere I went with my white skin and pointed nose. I was perpetually stared at.
And, some of those things have not changed in the past two years. I still get stared at. I still stick out with my white skin (though I regularly get comments from Khmer friends about how "black" I am becoming). I still don't know what to do with coagulated chicken blood (but I think it is often put in soups...). But, I have learned to navigate my life here. I have learned how to weave through traffic, how to use the sidewalk as an extension of the road, how to effectively use cars as shields when making left turns. I have learned to find things on my own, to bargain in the market, to have full conversations with people. I have learned patience and flexibility and how sometimes it is necessary to push your way forward rather than wait in a non-existent line because I am the only one who gets offended when someone cuts in line. I have learned so many things that I can't articulate or explain, so many things that are only learned by firsthand experience.
Soon I will be in America to visit. And, I think I am going to be awkward...really awkward. I know that things will be familiar, but I am not sure they will feel "normal" anymore. Driving in lanes? Cold weather? Everyone speaking English? No Korean soap operas on television? Fixed prices? Aisles full of all different types of cereal?
I know it sounds silly. I spent 23 years with all of those things being completely normal, but they aren't anymore. So, bear with me in my awkwardness. Don't laugh at my wide-eyed awe in the cereal aisle. And, try not to roll your eyes at my rice cravings...