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22nd-Apr-2011 01:20 am - happenings.
You came to me in my moment of crisis, I was perched at the top near the awning. I tried to convince you I was just watching the sunset. Am I so shallow as to be lured down with promises of ice cream?

My sister gave me a new sweater-- new for me, but some time old, already: solid green sleeves and striped horizontally on the body. The zipper wouldn't take at first but I fixed it. It has a strange, floppy collar. It is almost ninety-five degrees here but I wear it anyway, under the midday sun.

I flung myself from the roof and said, "I'll meet you there." I flew the rest of the way to the ice cream shop and waited for you there, but you never came. I think you doubted me.

Pon heard the aeroplane, saw its happy yellow-and-green lights against dark night clouds, and started dancing in praise. He pumped his arms up and down, looking like James Brown, his unkempt hair flying with the enthusiastic movements of his body.

I can dream up things that never happened, yet as fantastic as they are, they sometimes hold no candle to that which actually did.

Happen, that is.
28th-Mar-2011 07:14 am - Fire of the Soul
The birds take flight in parallel with us as we drive against the wind, bobbing on the unevenness of the road. It's supposed to be the hot, dry season, but today is neither, with a cool wind and clouds threatening rain. Together we listen to both American and Kmai music, which distracts from the pain a long moto trip will induce in the legs, the lower back, the tailbone.

It's rare for you to apologize after you've already told the other person they're wrong. But you said you were sorry last night and all of a sudden I felt visible again. Thank you, friend.
20th-Mar-2011 09:11 pm - 2011-01-05
i can't blame you for your moral superiority complex, seeing as i have one, too. i tried to remain objective, but finally an american friend here showed me why i can't be:
"you can't just say, your culture is wrong, or ethically 'bad', to someone." hearkening back to the days of my culturally-relativistic college experience, i hung my head in shame.

but something still gnawed, and what it was turned out to be two ones. one is me and one is whoever else, some other individual in cosmicland. maybe judgment of entire cultures is reserved for someone beyond me, but i believe in a person's right to confront another person about damage inflicted upon them. and if that damaged happens to be gendered, and/or widely culturally accepted (and grounded), this should not stop us from presenting our grievances all the same.

therefore, i am imprisoned by you. i am oppressed by you. i am not allowed space for my being in relation to you.

to some degree, it was so, that i had never tested the extremes of my liberty, which it turns out are not so extreme after all (partly due to You, partly due to me). but it was enough that i had glimpsed for myself what before i'd only read about, and though my reasons are different it was a simple decision to turn away from it. i don't regret this exercise, however; my experience is not their experience, not your experience, and because so much of that former experience had been unduly shaped by a masculist perspective (and still remains irritatingly, heavily influenced by this even now), an editing of my own life had to take place, or i would never be a real person. i wanted my own Experience, it is my track, and it shall not be denied me or any other individual on the basis of a Myth. i reserve such mythological justifications for scary stories i might tell my children some day. but i will also, gratefully, have something authentic to contribute, as well. i don't need your Bible, your Hadith, your Zohar, to write our histories for me.

to air grievances is a human right, but air them not in the Social Court, where you will always win by default; air them, as Cambodians would say, "one-one".
15th-Feb-2011 10:22 am - On Isolation
The problem with being uncompromising is that you risk alienating people, even (especially?) the people closest to you. Perhaps because for those you love best you have the highest standards to a degree, or perhaps because they are the ones who must bear the brunt of your frustrations day in and day out.

If you have a principle that, for yourself, you cannot compromise on, it may become a main fixture of your life if that principle comes into conflict with those of society at large. Therefore, as badly as it may offend people you encounter, ultimately the person that suffers the most is going to be you, yourself. Not only will all your relationships suffer, but you will be constantly reminded of your inability to "get along" by virtue of your principle being in constant violation by the very parties with whom you can't get along.

Ultimately this will lead to isolation, either self-imposed or isolation by virtue of no one wanting to associate with you.

Perhaps isolation is the only place where a principle can truly be upheld, because to avoid isolation you must compromise. You're not really standing strict to your principle if you compromise.

Or perhaps in isolation, no principle can be upheld, because if nobody's an island than a principle without a larger social context is no principle at all, but just an idea of one individual not held in relation to those of anyone else.

Regardless of whether isolation is the only place in which a principle can truly be accomplished, it is not a place I would want to dwell for long. I guess I need to learn how to compromise.
13th-Feb-2011 10:27 am - haircut.
If I'd have known people would stare at me less after cutting my hair short, I'd have done it a lot sooner. I suspect this is because at a glance they assume I'm a boy, and therefore not as "interesting" to look at. This, despite the fact that a girl with short hair in Cambodia is truly an anomaly.

In any case, I feel much more myself having chopped away all that nonsense so many people insist is a major source of beauty for females. I don't know why it makes me so angry, perhaps because I can't understand how people are still hung up on one's physical self and how much that's supposed to say about you. I suppose I'm especially bitter about it because women really get the short end of this stick.

I've heard it said before that women are their own worst critics, which is definitely the case in Cambodia. Better than 9 out of 10 times, the people criticizing (or disparaging, oftentimes) my looks are women. And not just me, but especially each other. Usually they are married women, between 25 and 40. Rarely do 'yaes' ("grandmothers") comment negatively on anybody's looks, that I've heard.

Our mothers' favourite adage, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all," doesn't apply here. It probably goes more like, "If you have something on your mind that could potentially make someone feel bad about themselves, you should probably go ahead and say it."

Most frequently I hear women commenting on one another's weight: too fat, too skinny (usually too fat). Next, they like to go on about their skin, particularly if one is "black". If you spend any amount of time in the sun, you are black. For instance, when I am tan from playing soccer several days in a row, I am "black". Have you ever wished things were just black and white? Move to Cambodia. There's no greyscale here. They also like to pick on each other about hair, clothes, makeup, acne, fingernails, the size of the bridge of one's nose, how big one's eyes are, and so on and so forth... Needless to say, when this is the main point of conversation, shit gets old. Think 1950's American housewives. When these kind of vapid conversations carry on day after day, one may start to understand why Kmai men think women are not as intelligent as men are. "Women can only care about laundry and doing their hair, leave it to men to think about the important things."

If it just stopped at how they think of their looks, I might not be upset about it on a daily basis (but probably I would); it doesn't, though, it extends to their very personhood. They devalue everything about themselves. Though men usually leave it to the women to talk shit about each other, they occasionally have to have their say, as if to reinforce their higher status. This past month I've heard three different men say something negative about their wives. One of them said, in front of their wife and several other people, that their wife was fat (this is a bad thing in Cambodia, it makes you ugly). Another that his wife was black (even worse), and the last that his wife was both black and fat. Sometimes men just straight-up say of their wives she is 'att-sa'at', or ugly. Clearly they've got their priorities straight.

This is not to say all Kmai men are like this, of course not. Just the vast majority of them. Some are worse than others. Some places are worse than others. But universal mediums like advertisements and TV reinforce these bad behaviors across the board, both for men and women, not unlike the States...
12th-Feb-2011 09:45 am - Olympic Stadium
ignition

clutch

throttle

first gear

second gear

third gear

corner

fourth gear

brake

kickstand

off

reward: sugarcane juice
7th-Jan-2011 12:06 pm_____
Expansive.

The glittering walls of this room,

the night-shining on the other side,

the minds of the students in her village,

the future

...must regain her footing.
13th-Nov-2010 01:55 am - cambodian koan
she sat on the platform and looked at the puddles of water from last night's rain, and watched the sunlight on the ripples, and listened to the tinkling windchimes on the side of the house, and the sun on the water and the sound were the same
31st-Oct-2010 10:10 pm - Happy Halloween
(>O_o)> wooooOOOOOooooooOOOoooo...
14th-Jul-2010 09:44 pm - You are the Nighttime Shining
Be it in July summer sun
or dazzling laser lights in the dark of labyrinthine arena

you guys are the best goddammit.
11th-Jul-2010 01:19 am - Schools of Fish
Safety
Dangerous shining edge
Waiver too much this way or that
No God to save you anymore
Snicker-snack.
25th-Jun-2010 04:20 pm - TEAR IT DOWN
i look at it and i look at mine and i see why he is unimpressed and i want to tear it down

which makes me sad because

at a t ime

i loved mine
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