Day Fourteen Quarantine.
Finally, Final Day!
Ready to bust out of here …
The day Nate brought me treats and supplies, I hung the bag on the doorknob so I’d feel like I might be going somewhere soon. Well, I am. In sixteen hours I’ll be with the four gorgeous beings who live just down the street from here.
Everything is packed, but I left the watercolors out to do a couple of very quick sketches of the birds pecking in the park grass and the newly flowering tree. Very quick. Misty dream memories of this time, which I’m sure is soon all it will be.
It’s Nilo’s 5th birthday today. Yep, I missed it. All this work, all this planning and in the end the timing of planes, quarantine counting rules, and maybe cosmic humor won out. But he had a fun party and I had a piece of cake in his monkey bowl and tomorrow … we CELEBRATE!
Signing off now. Thank you thank you thank you all from the bottom of my heart for reading this blog, for connecting, writing, calling, commenting … all of it. The experience was wildly enhanced by your friendship, support, encouragement, and love.
Love. That’s what it’s all about. What we do for love, eh?
Day Thirteen Quarantine.
Waiting. Watching. Wrapping Up.
Final two days. I can hear the clock ticking as the hours creep past.
I bet anyone still reading this blog is as ready as I am for both it & my quarantine stay to be wrapped up and tied with bow. Or a Frog. Or a Sailboat. Something that leaps or glides off into the sunset.
Until then — then being 40 hours from now, or 8am on Wednesday morning — to quote John Lennon, “I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round … “ There is no end to interesting locomotion and modes of transportation here in Bangkok.
And those wires! Those blew my mind on my first visit and still amaze me. How does anything work here, with that complicated matrix of cables? Yet it does. It all works very well in fact.
Day Twelve Quarantine
“Today you desire experience and activity. It will not be enough to stay in exactly the same place you have been.” (Daily astrology for Aquarius)
Is this all some kind of cosmic joke?
Today is like being nine months pregnant. Your due date is still a week away but you’d convinced yourself you’d deliver early so you feel like you’re already overdue. Your mood switches from hanging out happily waiting and anticipating the arrival of the little bundle of joy to some version of, “I need a bowl of ice cream. Make that the container. Then I want a foot massage. Then I want to lay here on the couch watching movies while someone else cleans the house until my contractions start. If they ever do.” You wonder if you will be the first woman to ever not deliver her baby. You wonder if you’ll get into the Guinness Book of World Records.
That’s Day Twelve in Quarantine. It’s okay. It’s just … Sunday … and a good day to forget about being productive, to use the face mask that’s been awaiting its moment, to stay in bed all day reading, watching movies, and talking with friends, to eat Yum Som (pomelo salad) and cake, and wait it out.
In closing for the day, a bit of budding reflection:
In two conversations with friends today, Serap and Abram, we talked about recognizing the way challenging circumstances can develop inner resources and resilience. It may be too early, because I’m still ‘in it’ but I bet that down the road, this strange, surreal two weeks will have an effect on my ability to weather feelings of being trapped, stuck, bored, restless … feelings of being ‘not in the right place’ — common themes in my life experience. An interesting possibility and potential unexpected gift.
Day Eleven Quarantine.
The End Is In Sight.
Almost time for sunset and dinner update.
Today has been peaceful and quietly energized after sleeping a solid seven hours last night. Gone is the anxiety about being stuck in this room for the rest of eternity. The gifts are almost finished — final pics tomorrow before they are restored in my suitcase. Just about done making silly origami for awhile, but it’s sure been fun.
Finished reading a hard-to-put-down novel, “Aviary” by Deidre McNamer. The breadth and depth of her vocabulary, wide range of knowledge on oh so many topics, and skill with spinning a tale made it a delightful immersion. It’s a mystery, with a cast of mostly old people, which right there gives it unique intrigue. Published by the small press, Milkweed. Highly recommend.
Spent the better part of today on my mat doing some original Thomas Hanna somatics classes. Going to the source is always revealing and enlightening. I did the classes on hands today. Would you think there could be several hours of awareness of hands possible? Considering that the hands occupy a significant portion of our overall sensory-motor cortex, not only is it possible, it is a nervous system washing for the entire body. Very relaxing and freeing. It’s not often enough that we (I) slow down enough to really get to know our hands … or as Hanna puts it, to really get to know ourselves. Grateful to be taking some time here for resourcing.
Every day here I’ve been doing this “Facelift At Your Fingertips” practice. It’s lovely. Uses the acupressure points in the face to encourage blood flow, relax skull tension, and firm the muscles. Found the book many years ago, have used it off and on, and now maybe will finally integrate it into my life on a regular basis. Can’t say for sure if my face & skin looks better but it sure feels better.
Day Ten Quarantine.
Above is some of the adorable silly little origami that consumed a nice chunk of the day today. Which was good because yesterday was a sort of Dark Night of the Soul type of day after which I didn’t sleep well. Woke at around 3:45 to have a complete melt down crying, I can’t do this, I’m going crazy, I need sleep, I need air, I need people, I need to move, get out of here, just make a break for it, they’ll never miss me …
So I called my husband Joe who wasn’t home, left a miserable message, lay flat on my back on the bed breathing … and then suddenly it all shifted. I felt so much better. It was as if the muses were back intervening again on my behalf — just spend time on your mat for next five days, make silly origami, talk with friends, eat light, read your book, it will all work out. When I did talk with Joe he said, “You know, I’ve been thinking. Why don’t you just forget about getting your sleep schedule all sorted out. Just sleep when you need to, be awake when you’re awake, and trust that when you’re with you family in a few days it will all sort itself out.” He is a wise one, that Joe.
So far today I’ve spent time on my mat (morning practices so far, more to come), made silly origami that feels like cheating because it’s all animated but it’s so darn cute (dropped off by my son Nate in another little bag of goodies), talked with several friends (thank you to Éme, Penny, Jonas & Jessica, Joe), took a bubble bath, read my book, ate salad and fruit, and tonight I have an energy healing call with the one and only Katie Todd. A nap hasn’t even whispered my name all day.
Day Nine Quarantine.
This is getting old. Today was long. It’s still long, not even time for dinner yet.
Sun this morning on my mat, following a very early somatics / qui gong / meditation. Sleep was elusive and fitful last night.
Remember the guys up on the roof overhang a few days ago? Well, that went on for three days. They were there, but nothing was happening. Then suddenly today when I looked over, the new tiling on the roof was completed. Like magic.
Just a photo of clothing hanging out to dry in the hot humid air.
Outside, the movement of the palm branches is soothing in the early dusk. There is something different about how palm branches sway. I’m not sure I’ve witnessed this from a birds eye perspective before.
So there’s that today. A Mary Oliver moment.
Day Eight Quarantine
First Day of Week Two!
What will today bring? What will this week bring? My son just dropped off two little friends from grandkids personal stash to keep me company during quarantine, kitty and turtle. They are echoing my sentiments … can we go outside to play?
And, a supply of wrapping materials to wrap all the bday gifts I brought for the kids. That will be fun!
My grandson has a bday the day before I get out of here which sounds like bad planning on my part, but really, there were so many iterations of timelines for this trip, based on flight availability and cost. By the time quarantine was increased from 7 days up to 14 days, it was impossible to make any more itinerary changes (not to mention go through the process of redoing ALL of the hotel reservations and embassy paperwork required). So we will celebrate his bday twice which will not be an issue. My granddaughter has her bday a week later, and we’ll celebrate that at the beach. (You’ll notice I don’t use their names or share photos of of my grandkids. This is a request of my son, one I honor and support.)
Until the delivery arrived, I was just sitting here wistfully imagining June 9, hearing the guy next door to me moving out, seeing his suitcases in the hallways ready to go with him to wherever he’s going from here. So, it does happen. There is an end. Good to know, although I wish it was the guy next door on the other side because he’s very noisy. Talks non-stop all day long and into the night. But we do what we need to do to make it through here in what my friend John termed our “weird monasticism”.
I’ve done my morning practices, had my hot lemon honey water, coffee and croissant, and after skipping dinner last night, am looking forward to lunch. Indian today, gobi aloo matar – cauliflower, peas, potatoes with rice (of course) and paratha … but I’ve asked for plain naan instead. The restaurant has been so generous and accommodating to all my many requests – lemon slices please, honey please, extra fruit please, no main course please. Dinner is a labneh sandwich on multigrain bread with salad. Probably won’t be hungry and will keep it because it might come in handy tomorrow if I decide to cancel meals. Still have yummy potato salad from yesterday left over, two juices, three fruit bowls and all those snacks. Lots of food. Plenty of food. Can’t image why I was ever worried about not having enough food. Maybe it was the idea that I wouldn’t have my own food, or a fridge with food to choose from, or control over my food. That if I didn’t like something I wouldn’t be find anything else to eat. Some scarcity fear rearing its head. Funny how scarcity fears do that, logical or not. Noticing more than usual, being holed up here alone, the unconscious pattern of mind that hold such sway on attitude and behavior. Monkey-Mind as it’s popularly called these days.
Plus, one can order off the restaurant/room service menu instead of having what they offer for the quarantine menu, and I just might do that. Just out of curiosity and for a change of taste. In fact, I think I’ll look at that menu right now.
Okay, so. Thai iced tea or iced green tea. There are other breakfast choices. Good to know. Mouthwatering Thai choices including a few vegetable dishes, and —Pomelo salad! Definitely having that. One of my favorites – pomelo is similar to grapefruit but larger and sweeter and juicier — completely amazing tasting. Lots of Mediterranean items like hummus, tabbouleh, babaghanouj that could be fun for snacking instead of having an entire meal. There is a rocket salad, a lamb dumpling dish called Manti that looks enticing. I don’t eat much meat and have had none here, but lamb I’ve loved all my life. There is a quinoa and white bean salad I’ve had my eye on since first perusing this menu on Day One. That incredible Pumpkin Soup from lunch the other day! Vegan Minestrone. A poached tomato with burrata. A snow fish dish that looks incredible. Salmon Saffron Risotto. Yum Yum Yum.
And then there’s dessert. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but for certain types of tastes my tooths make an exception:
Apple Tarte, Mixed Berry Panna Cotta, Creme Brûlée. Tiramisu, Mango Cheesecake, Crepe Suzette. Aish Al Saray, an Arabic bread pudding dessert with pistachios. And of course … Mango Sticky Rice which I adore but is very filling. But one day, I’m having that for my main course.
I’ve never spent two weeks with this many food choices ranging numerous cuisines.
So much for scarcity fears.
Day Seven Quarantine.
This morning began at 5:40am after four hours sleep. Sigh. But the call of art drew me to finish putting together four pieces to submit to a juried exhibit at a gallery in Portland, so hot lemon water in hand I set to work. Turmeric, Hibiscus, and Butterfly Pea were all made here. The indigo dyed piece is something I brought from home and added the coffee dyed background here. I’m happy with the results, and now we’ll see what the jury has to say. It’s a satisfying relief to have completed this project, wasn’t so sure yesterday if it would come to pass.
Now … something different for Week Two which begins tomorrow. The menu repeats starting tomorrow, too, and I have a much better idea as to what choices I prefer, how much food to request during a day, and when to skip meals. The food continues to be exceptional — but I don’t need to eat this much and I feel so badly about using and wasting all these plastic containers. It tears at my eco-heart. It’s in ironic contrast to my having brought a set of bamboo utensils so I didn’t need to use and waste plastic ones.
Each evening we put out our red garbage bags tied with matching red rubber bands. In the color coded scheme of garbage and recycling in Bangkok:
Green – Organic Waste (for composting)
Yellow – Recycling (to be remade into other things)
Orange – Hazardous Waste (to be disposed of in a safe manner)
Red – Infected Waste (to be disposed of in a safe manner)
Blue – Trash for Landfill (we want to reduce this as much as possible)
So the assumption is that we in quarantine are infected until proven otherwise.
On that note, today was rooftop visit number two for a covid test. How exciting! So exciting I forgot to bring my camera. But I did get lost up there on my way to one of the hidden testing stations, so had a chance to be outside for a couple extra minutes. So hot! So humid! So wonderful! If you can avoid ever having to get a nasal swab test, do. Painful. But all in the interest of keeping the health.
And on that note, today the parks reopened after being closed for the past month. The traditional Thai massage and foot massage spas reopened (not the “other kinds of massage” parlors — although tattoo and body piercing shops reopened so go figure). My son was able to find a place for us to to stay for five days at the beach (many places are still not open or very limited). I changed the sheets and towels in my room (no room service during the stay). And tomorrow begins Week Two.
So things are looking up. How are you all doing?
Day Six Quarantine.
This trip has been hard on my body. I’m not yet fully recovered from jet lag or from the digestive problems that often accompany travel, if you know what I mean. Wondering if the effects of not only having traveled this far, under pretty stressful conditions, after the months of challenge just getting the trip set up, all the concern over whether or not it’s really a good idea to do this … added to the extremely weird experience of being locked into a hotel room alone with no social or personal contact, and so close to my family and yet so far … following a year plus of the-time-of-covid … wondering if all this is adding an extra potent adjustment challenge. Not only is my circadian rhythm turned upside down, literally – Bangkok is 12 hours time difference from Minnesota – but my cuing of daily life rhythm is also completely missing but for what I can create in my circadian dissonance. I’m not complaining. Just noticing. Hoping I adjust soon. The main activity here, really, is noticing.
Day Five Quarantine.
Late Afternoon Edition.
Food Update: Meals are delivered to the room, left outside on a little table by the door. The leaver of food rings the bell then disappears. Breakfast usually arrives in a paper bag. Lunch and dinner arrive tidily organized in a plastic bag. This same type of bag is used everywhere here for everything from supermarket purchases to outdoor market purchases to room service delivery. Here are two examples of the types of meals I’ve been having:
Day Five Quarantine.
Early Morning Edition.
Art Update: From the left — 1st photo: paper dyed with Butterly Pea tea – tea bag paper (2 pieces) – Japanese art paper & printmaking paper (2 smaller pieces) – tea bag paper, lemon added to the tea which changes the color; 2nd photo: paper dyed with Hibiscus tea – tea bag paper – Japanese art paper; tea bag dyed with Chamomile tea; 3rd photo: the turmeric pieces in morning sun with shadows. Today my task is to commit the turmeric pieces to something that can be used to submit to an upcoming exhibit.
About tea bag paper: I’m making lots of tea, and learned last year about this idea of carefully unfolding the used tea bag (could be a new tea bag but that seems wasteful — although the topic of waste on this trip is something for another post). Then you either dry it out and use it as it. Quite beautiful. Or, what I’m doing here is rinsing off most of the remaining tea leaves and putting it into one of my dye baths made from dried flowers and/or turmeric tea.
About Butterfly Pea: This was one of my most favorite discoveries on my first trip here in October, 2017. Love the name! Love the double entendres! It’s a lovely flower with magical properties including that when steeped it creates a blue tea, which turns purple when you add lemon. I’ll do a demo later today.
About the dye baths: Using the containers from some of the food consumed; top to R — turmeric tea, instant coffee, hibiscus & chamomile, butterfly pea with lemon, butterfly pea.
I have no idea how long these colors will last on the paper. I’m not doing any of the things usually required to ensure longevity. But then again, this is my liminal expression of a liminal moment in a liminal reality. Trust feels necessary. And having fun!
Day Four Quarantine.
We’ll go with food and art this morning.
I ordered the Bread Pakora for breakfast today thinking it was some kind of Indian potato dish, only to find out it’s Indian street food composed of two slices of white bread layered with spiced potatoes and deep fried in a flavorful coating. This is the kind of food that I still consider illegal for me, personally, to consume! Although I did try one little bite after which I had to wash my fingers which were coated in oil. Suppose it’s akin to what is served at state fairs in the USA. Give me Grass Jelly any day! Next to that pic you see the standard daily croissant, teensy banana muffin, and toast (with butter and jelly). Which would you choose? And of course there was a luscious fruit bowl and fresh juice. Those I ate but for the toast. Next to that pic is an example of a menu page from which we choose in advance for our entire stay. I’ve already changed mine once and likely will again, since the menu repeats itself twice during our stay, but as you can see there are American, Italian, Indian, Thai, and Mediterranean items for each meal. So I’m experimenting and trying to go veg as I like it and it’s a safer bet. Usually 🙂 Note the choice for Thai Style Boiled Pork Blood Soup for breakfast. (I’ll admit I did try a beef soup with blood added on a previous visit and although it was truly incredibly delicious, it was not possible for me to get the idea of it out of my head.)
Art project update. Messing around with the various pieces of paper dyed in the turmeric tea and coffee. So far nothing permanent but sure is fun! Love having set up this art studio here in my monastery / quarantine / artist den / reboot center. I like the direction the gold piece is going and may begin attaching it together with thread this afternoon. I’m also going to do my nails and give myself a facial and do a mat pilates workout … but the day is young. It’s only 8am here. Many many hours till bedtime on Day Four.
Thanks to everyone who is reading these posts, it means a lot to stay connected this way. How’s it going back in the US for everyone? Or wherever you all are?
Highlights of Afternoon Day Four Quarantine.
These guys have been out on the ledge of this overhang under this umbrella in the 90+ degree very windy weather all day long, doing I know not what. And I don’t know what those bleacher-like deals are either, but they aren’t bleachers. This pigeon has now visited me three times and on the last visit he/she/it did it’s business. Nice. I’ve added a set of small prayer flags to my quarantine decor, attached to the wall with a bit of gum eraser. My son brought me a gift bag filled with fun and yummy treats! All my favorite Thai snacks — rice cakes (not like the ones we’re used to), ginger cookies, crispy seaweed, almond snacks, and some nuts & chocolate. Not that I don’t get enough food, too much food, but some days I just want to eat the fruit and have some munchies. Also, some lotion and hair treatments to assist me in spa day which has been a lovely time of self indulgence.
Oh! And a few new teas to use for dying: Butterfly Pea (a flower), and Hibiscus. Wait till you see the colors …
Days Two & Three Quarantine.
Day two was spent mostly sleeping. Skipped dinner (tummy ache, too much rice). Had my first covid test up on the rooftop. Exciting to go outside for a few minutes! Not exciting to have a Q tip stuck up into my brain. But I did get to see there are more of us here in the Quarantine Club. Since I slept so much yesterday afternoon and evening and night, I was awake at about 4am. So I found some online birds songs, and went to work setting up my Quarantine art studio.
These are mostly items brought from home, thinking I’d do my best to get something together to submit to the exhibit “Liminal” at Verum Ultimum gallery in Portland (where I had a piece in the recent exhibit “Abstract Sanctuary”). Over the past two days I’ve been playing with dying using my turmeric tea bags: unwrapping the bags after steeping, dying pieces of paper in the tea, making arrangements of the items. Not sure where it’s going yet, but I’m thinking maybe another Quixotic Quarantine art mask is in order. It certainly does give me and my little monk room a visual and sensual lift.
Oh, and my son & family stopped over to wave up through the window but alas, the windows are made to be unable to see into. Which means I can do things freely like dance around, air out after showers, etc — but also that we can’t actually see each other yet even from a distance. It made me cry to see them so close! But also happy to see them, and to see that my grandkids aren’t really that big yet — I didn’t miss too much over the past 1.5 years.
Grass jelly, or leaf jelly or herb jelly, is a jelly-like dessert eaten in East and Southeast Asia. It is created by using the Platostoma palustre plant and has a mild, slightly bitter taste. It is served chilled, with other toppings such as fruit, or in bubble tea or other drinks.
Grass Jelly — it’s what’s for dessert tonight!
UPDATE: I did dip my metaphorical toe in, as Evelyn suggested, and the taste/texture combo was compelling enough to keep going. A bit like coffee, but no caffeine and lots of nutrition, not quite like anything else I’ve ever tasted. But then much of the food here is in that category. Even if you think you’ve had Thai food before, you haven’t.
Days Zero & One Quarantine.
Traveling to Thailand this time has been surreal. Nearly empty airports in Seoul and Bangkok, nearly empty planes from the US to Seoul, Seoul to Bangkok.
The Sci-Fi highlight was disembarking the plane at the BKK airport at 9:00PM to be greeted by a team of medical professionals and airport staff dressed in fully protective gear, and police/security guards. We were escorted down a hallway where our stack of required paperwork was reviewed and reviewed again; then down another hallway where we sat single file in a long row of straight back chairs; then a few at a time down another hallway where we were met one at a time by an even more fully garbed security person and paperwork checked again; then through two levels of security (yep, more paperwork); then baggage claim and down the final hallway where I was whisked away into a waiting vehicle driven by a full protective dress driver behind plexiglass barriers who delivered me to my quarantine hotel. One might have thought one was being transported to another dimension. Of course, this is Thailand, so even with this bizarre scenario the people were warm and friendly, joking and laughing, which gave it another layer of surreal. Much appreciated surreal however 🙂
At the hotel, a lovely highly rated hotel with loads of amenities I can’t leave my room to enjoy, I was greeted by two more fully protected staff (one a nurse) who had all my paperwork ready to go for check in, set me up with my app to record my temperature twice per day and to communicate with the restaurant about meals, went up the elevator to my room where my luggage had already been delivered, and shut the door. Here I will remain for the next 14 days. There was a luscious fruit plate waiting.
Thailand has fruit that is out of this world (maybe I have been transported?). The view from the room is a relief, gardens and a little park! I set up some fairy lights on the TV. Took a bubble bath. Set out all the art supplies and reading material I’d brought. Unpacked the three pieces of clothing I intend to live in for two weeks. Now it’s night again. Sunset is around 6:30PM here, all year long; sunrise around 6:00AM all year long. I’m wide awake after a four hour nap this afternoon, and it’s only 7PM — exactly 12 hour difference from Minnesota. Talk about a liminal space of existence. Opposite side of the planet, opposite time of day, opposite of freedom to roam …. but I’m here, fortunate and grateful to be able to do this trip, amazed and grateful that it’s actually happening, that it’s even possible during this time of Covid.
One week from today I leave for Bangkok, Thailand. I’ll arrive close to midnight there (in MN we are exactly 12 hours time difference) after a total 40 hour trip, and will be staying in a quarantine hotel for two weeks (it was 10 days, then 7 days, then back to 2 weeks). Yep, even vaccinated. The hotel will pick me up at the airport, whisk me over to my room (sanctuary????) which I will not be allowed to leave for the entire time. They’ll deliver three meals per day, will not clean the room (I can order fresh sheets and towels at any time), and will covid test me several times during my stay. I will not be allowed to order in anything from the outside, although my son might be able to bring a package (which they will search) with … fresh flowers? Bubble bath? No food or drink from the outside, no alcohol at all in the room (which is fine), no leaving the room for any reason. I had a balcony when I first reserved this room, but lost it when they had an issue with the bathroom (about a month ago … ?) so hoping that at least the windows open. Of course, it will be in Bangkok so the air could be less than fresh. It’s a very nice hotel although I will not be able to enjoy any of the features … unless, and of course this could happen, they loosen the restrictions on vaccinated people and allow us to venture out for an hour or so each day to the ‘relaxing area’.
It will be the first leg of my adventure. Think I’ll learn a little Thai, do a lot of writing, reading, art projects. Spend lots of time dancing, moving, Pilates, somatics. Talk with friends who are up at odd hours in the states. Recalibrate my circadian rhythm (one of the best parts about it).
Maybe do a simple blog on the experience.
The logistics of setting up this trip have been daunting and ever changing but I feel ready, and excited for the reward which will be a month with my son, daughter in law, and two little grandkids!