Saturday, February 16, 2013

So fast.

Sometimes life comes at you, all at once, so fast.  Earlier this week, my sister called me in the  middle of the night.  Even on the cusp of consciousness and sleep, I knew something was wrong.  My grandma Martina, who I visited in Mindanao last October, had passed away, just a few days after my parents and sisters flew to the southern provinces to celebrate her 90th birthday.  I did not go.

That entire day, I was floating.  I count only two and a half hours where I was focused and that was during my interviews with the Syrian asylum-seeker brothers.  In their talks of bombs, their memories surrounding the sounds of constant gunfire, of death around each corner, I found concentration.

But the rest of the day was gone.

In the next two weeks, I have to wrap up my cases, go to Mindanao for my grandmother's funeral, go back to Bangkok, pack, and then make a huge move to the US.   This week (and the next few) will be an exercise in compartmentalization.  

Friday, February 8, 2013


It's been a rough week, which I've largely spent buried in appeals and listening to stories of refugees' homes being raided in the early morning, of being coerced into paying bribes to officers to secure family members' release, of being subject to "soft deportation" to the countries from which they fled, etc.

I'm glad it's Friday evening. 

Ethan told me the other day that I mainly use this space to document shoes and dresses.  That is true.  I write less about my work in Thailand than I did in Cambodia.  Maybe it was the novelty of Cambodia.  Maybe I was still new to drawing boundaries of work and not-work, especially human rights work.  Maybe it's that the nature of my work in Thailand is such that I am bound my stricter confidentiality rules and 50+ hours a week dedicated to this work is more than sufficient use of my thoughts and energy.

Still, the reason I've kept this space for the past three years is to document - and to remember. Because memories invariably grow faint. Because things change so quickly in life.

Speaking of which, change is coming.  Another twist, despite my dogged resistance.  And, I'm doing all I can to not be overwhelmed, to work on my cases without being consumed by all that is ahead. 

Must. Breathe. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Honeymoon Daydreaming, Pt.2

first image via Telegraph; second via Smithsonian 

Ever since I posted about Chilean Patagonia, it has increasingly rooted itself in my mind as a possible honeymoon destination.  But to be honest, from the beginning, we talked about going to Turkey.  

With only one exception, everyone I know who has either lived or visited Turkey raves about it - my parents included. One woman I spoke to, who lived there as a child and visited several times as an adult, described Istanbul as possessing a heady mix of all the romanticized elements of Islamic culture.  She talked about the food, the architecture, the markets. 

How awesome would it be to stay in a hotel with a view of the Bosphorus?  

An interesting possibility that has attached itself to the option of Turkey is short jaunt to, and a return flight out of, Sofia, in neighboring Bulgaria.

[Post-edit:  This is kind of the wrong timing with the news of the NYC woman, whose body was found a few days ago. What a sad story.  I read through a few articles yesterday, and I was struck by some of the ignorance of the comments left - blanket generalizations and oft-hateful remarks about Muslims, about Turkey/Syria/the MENA region.  But also, there were many judgments surrounding the fact that a woman (and a married one) would ever choose to travel alone.  Wow.] 
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