Snapshots from my first month back in BKK

Uh… whoops. Another delayed post – sorry. And even though half my posts recently have begun with an excuse, I still feel compelled to offer yet another. So let’s just say that there’s a creature in my gut who’s been sucking all my brain power/memory/sense of time lately. Some days I’m amazed that I even manage to dress myself. Good thing no-one’s life is depending on me right now. Oh wait…

Coming back to Bangkok after a month in Canada has been just a real slice o’ life. On one hand, Bannock and I were both pretty pleased to be reunited with her father (she signalled her joy by slamming all her limbs into my ribs). It has also been great to move into our new apartment, see my Bangkok friends again, and trigger severe acid reflux by eating massive quantities of pineapple. On the other hand, I’ve had to undergo some not-so-fun medical tests, watched my ankles fluctuate between “bony” and “tree trunk-esque” on a regular basis, and felt a little bereft after leaving my families, friends, and Percy the Miniature Horse behind.

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On the other hand, I got to meet this doll when I subbed for the two-year-olds. It appears to be a creepy cloth version of Todd as a baby. Bannock, please don’t look like this.

On that merry note, here are a few snapshots from my first month back in Bangkok: apologies if they are a little heavy (ha!) on the pregnancy end of the spectrum. Somehow, the knowledge that I will have to basically shove a watermelon through a straw in 2 months has completely hijacked my brain.

1. Thai Culture Class

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, and either have a good memory or are my mother, you may recall that I had to spend a significant chunk of time in Thai Culture Class around this time last year. It is a mandatory course for all teachers at international schools in Thailand, and I took it along with all the new teachers at the school. I have vague memories of making a lot of random crafts out of a lot of random materials, dancing around in Thai loincloths, and sitting through loooong discussions of Thailand’s kingly succession. It had some good moments, but I think we were all pleased when we “graduated.” Imagine my delight when I discovered that I had to take the course again this year. Apparently, because I entered Thailand last year without a teaching visa, the course didn’t count, and I would have to retake it if I wanted to continue subbing. After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, I succumbed to my fate, and found myself spending three days with a bunch of Swiss and British teachers at one of Bangkok’s swankier international schools. Surprisingly, Thai history hadn’t changed much in the course of a year. The food at the Culture Class, however, had. No offence to T-bone’s school, but whatever they served us last year paled in comparison to the spread at Patana school. Whenever the classes got dull, I would distract myself by dreaming of the lunch buffet. That, and watching my ankles swell before my eyes.

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Last year. When I still had ankles and a waist.

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And this year. I think I need to invest in some new facial expressions.

2.  Last *sniff* bike ride

After it took us a solid year to actually buy bikes in Bangkok, I was a little depressed when I realized that it was probably time to sell mine – I’m getting bulky’n’awkward, and we need to make space for more baby schtuff in our apartment. And as much as I like to picture the three of us going on family bike rides after Bannock is born, I have come to terms with the fact that that just ain’t gonna happen. So Todd and I took our bikes out for one last adventure in the “Green Lung” of Bangkok, a community/park that is almost an island in the Chao Phraya river.

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Bannock was well protected

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You should always wear head protection on a ferry.

“Leisurely” would be one way to describe our speed. When we finally got home, Todd started putting together an advertisement to sell the bike.

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Which one of you idiots wants to buy my bike? Huh!?!

Before he even posted the ad, one of our teacher friends offered to buy the bike. All I can say is, Wes, you had better actually take it off our hands, because Todd made me spend an entire evening posing on that durned thing.

3. Fun tests/parental guilt

There’s nothing the medical community seems to enjoy more than springing random tests on pregnant women. I have peed in so many cups over the last few months that I’ve lost count. And my technique still hasn’t improved (if anyone has any hot tips, please share). A particularly enjoyable test that I got to indulge in was the blood glucose test. Basically, you swig a cup full of pure sugar, and then have your blood taken an hour later – this helps determine if you’re at risk for gestational diabetes. I did it one better – I drank a litre of orange juice for lunch, and then I swigged the sugar mixture. Looking back, this may not have been the wisest choice, as, lo and behold, my test results came back showing elevated sugar levels, and my doctor told me I had to do the extended version of the test. Most humans would merely be annoyed at the inconvenience, but I am feeling a little “special” these days: I spent the evening weeping, convinced that my over-consumption of Magnum bars during my first trimester was going to lead to my poor child being a 13lb colossus. Welcome to the world of parental guilt. After fasting overnight, I hauled myself back to the hospital to chug the Kool-aid again. I don’t know how this is possible, but it contained twice the sugar that the previous test did. I then experienced the rare privilege of having my blood drawn FOUR times over the next three hours, as I continued to fast/tried not to pass out. I hate needles, but once I remembered that I was going to have to actually give birth to a human in a few months, I stopped feeling sorry for my current self, and started feeling sorry for my future self.

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Note how my forearm is arranged so artistically next to the word “Laboratory”

4. Stuff students say

This post is already way too long, but I have to share a few of my favourite lines from students that I have subbed for regarding my burgeoning figure:

“Is that fat or a baby?”  13-year-old boy

“Is Mr. Todd the father?” 16-year-old boy

“You and Ms. Therese are both pregnant, but you are waaay bigger” 17-year-old girl (said with a look of utter confusion. Apparently, Ms. Therese is the prototype for pregnancy, and anyone else is a deviation from the standard. I had to explain the concept of “different due dates” to her).

And finally, the look of utter glee and shock on the faces of two twelve-year-old boys when I informed them that, yes, I am indeed pregnant. They looked as though I had just told them the best, dirtiest joke. I still can’t figure it out.

I’m starting to wonder if these students have ever taken a health class, or interacted with a pregnant woman before. Just doin’ my bit for humanity.

And let’s finish off with one last picture, because it is too good not to use. Our friend Jessica turned 18.* I think the world would be a better place if we all just publicly embraced our birthdays.

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Leaving no doubt as to who the birthday girl is.

*Give or take a decade

Endings…

The school year officially ended on Friday last week. What a beautiful, beautiful day. Overall, I’ve enjoyed subbing this year, but it was time for it to end. The general feeling hanging in the air at school was sort of like a tasty dinner that turns into revolting leftovers when forgotten in the back of the fridge for a week – something good that is way past its prime. Or that relationship that you know you should end, but you just can’t quite find the courage to do it. Or that moment before you finally cut the baby curls off your not-so-little boy. A line from Handel’s Messiah kept running through my head: ‘”Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoi-oi-oi-oi-oice greatly!”

Before the year was officially over, though, I got to enjoy the delights of a student/teacher talent show. The whole school, including the three-year-olds, crowded into the school gym to enjoy a little light entertainment for no fewer than two hours. In the grand scheme of things, two hours is pretty short, but when you are watching angsty teenagers perform Thai love songs, it can feel like an eternity. Fortunately, there were a few dance acts that spiced up the show. Unfortunately, several of these involved ten-year-old girls shaking their booty to songs about “gettin’ it down on the floor.” In yet another sign (other than the exploding expanding torso) that motherhood is imminent, my immediate response was to mutter ‘overmydeadbodywillanychildofmineEVERdancelikethat.” At least the three-year-olds were entertained.

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I love this photo. Everything from the “Done” sign, to the dancing three-year-olds, to the awkward rapping.

The end of the year wasn’t all good, though. There are a bunch of teachers who won’t be coming back next year, and it was sad to see them go (you will be missed!). There was a big staff dinner during the last week of school, and it included a tribute to those who were leaving. The tribute was a karaoke rap song about people dying by Puff Daddy (or whatever his name is now), and included a rewritten verse for every single one of the EIGHTEEN teachers who were leaving. I got to rewrite a verse for one of the teachers, and let me just say that I have a new respect for rappers and the sheer volume of words they manage to spew. My verse was bad enough, but when compounded by a factor of eighteen, it was sheer carnage. One real highlight of the evening for me was the opportunity to wear maternity pants (read: elastic waistband) while hitting the buffet. I don’t care if you’re pregnant or not, or even if you’re a woman or not: you need to wear a pair of these next time you go to a buffet. I promise you won’t regret it.

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This picture contains less than half the people who were *attempting* to rap.

Todd and I decided to celebrate again on the weekend by doing one of our favourite things – namely, binge eating Indian food. We hauled across town to a restaurant in the swanky Chit Lom area, and dove into a few old standbys – Chicken Tikka, Aloo Gobhi, and Saag Paneer. It was beautiful. Todd says that as soon as the chai touched his lips, he could feel the stress of the year melting away. Never underestimate the healing effects of fat and spice.

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I couldn’t even hold still for a photo.

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Notice the ghee glistening on every dish…

And that’s it. Hard to believe that our first (school) year in Thailand is already over. Definitely a time for reflection, pontification, and remembrance. But mostly rejoi-oi-oi-oi-oi-oicing!