Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I think the frequency of my blogs says one of two things: either I am so used to Cambodia, the day to day, is no longer worth blogging about or I am in a peaceful place. Maybe both. But let’s be honest, the most interesting blogs are when something crazy happens to me.
So the newly found pessimist in me is pretty much expecting Cambodia to throw me one last punch before I leave. I know, it sounds awful. But I’ve gotten pretty good at timing these things. As I rode my bike home from school today, I was trying to guess what crazy thing might happen next. I considered malaria or being imprisoned for being white. As I wondered, a teenager driving his moto way too fast came within inches of knocking me off my bicycle. I swerved; I corrected, and immediately wondered if my pessimism is somehow bringing bad things my way. I don’t know much about karma, but I imagine it says something like: “If you assume everything bad is going to happen to you, it probably will”.
My mom cross stitched this poem that hangs in our bathroom. I know it well because after 10 years on the same toilet, I’ve spent a lot of time reading it.
It goes:
“If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but think you can’t, it’s almost a cinch, you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost.
For out in the world we find, success begins with a fellows will,
it’s all in the state of mind.
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man,
but soon or late the man who wins is the one who thinks he can.”

I used to take pride after reading that poem, I have had a pretty optimistic attitude for most of my life. Now, that person seems much farther away. I don’t advertise this attitude to any of the people I encounter here. But inside, all I’m thinking is, “Ok, what’s going to hit me today?” Some days I’ve been hit with sickness, cars, men, insensitive words from my students, and more often, I end up beating on myself.
But as mentioned in the first paragraph, not much has happened recently. Well, nothing bad at least. My conversations with my family on Sundays are, short. The phone calls have been much less desperate and I don’t think I’ve cried to them in at least 3 weeks. I suppose this is the happy ending I might wish for. But not all is well. I’ve just learned to adjust and I don’t even flinch to the chaos I encounter anymore. I’m numb and I know it.
Yet still, I’m glad I woke up this morning…
-to go for a long hard run and listen to Coldplay
-to listen to Tulip for over an hour as she finally opened up and admitted she is not as happy as everyone thinks she is
-because I haven’t binged or purged in over 8 days
-to get an incredibly thoughtful email from my sister
-because I only have to do that 28 more times before I wake up at home
-because Phalkun hugged me and squeezed me tight for no reason at all
-because Joanna peeked over my shoulder at my lunch and said, “Oh, garbage huh?” I corrected her and said, “Almost, it’s called, ‘cabbage’!”

A friend of mine from home got me a subscription to O magazine here in Cambodia. I did not order it, but I am more than happy to receive it. Principle Sharon gives me my mail and whenever I get one she tosses it to me, rolls her eyes, and says, “Here is your Oprah magazine!” I assure her I am not so desperate….but, blah, blah, blah, she doesn’t care.
Anyways, I look forward to any connection to the rest of the world and last Sabbath I sat, thoroughly enjoying every page. I read one article about Umoja, an all-women’s village in Kenya. It was such an incredible story about these women who fled their abusive, circumcising husbands in search of a better life. I read it and I thought, “I want to go there. I want to help with this.” My own jaw dropped. I pushed my heart aside, my head kicked in, and I thought, “Are you crazy? You can’t even handle Cambodia and Africa is even tougher!”
Still, the thought has stuck with me all week. I don’t want to be forever turned off to missions because of this experience. I just don’t think it has to be a, one-size fits all, kind of thing. Maybe Cambodia just isn’t my nitch, as Polly suggested. Maybe I have yet to find it. Often I talk about traveling, because I may never be back on this side of the world again. Fay says, “Oh, never say never Heather!” And I very strongly and confidently say, “Never”.
Time will tell who is right, but I won’t put money on either side quite yet.