Monday, July 15, 2013

Random Journal Entries from Thailand, 1995

Back before blogs, we had travel journals. Now you see backpackers sitting in cafes with their tablets or laptops; back in the 90s, we had nothing but hard copy.

As I said, my next memoir will have a "flashback" section about my younger years leading up to me being an English teacher, so I was scanning all those old journals recently.

I was surprised how unengaging a lot of it was.

It's like they have all of my experiences, but none of my perspective. They lack the bigger picture; they're just moments in time.

(And of course I see all the developmental -- that is, sucky -- parts of my writing at that time, and like most young people, I was far too interested in myself.)

Here are a few random journal entries from Bangkok, Thailand, 1995, written by a newly-hatched English Teacher X, at the tender age of 25. (Like a little tachyon transmission from the past.)

An entry after returning from a Malaysian visa-run:

Sautrday August 19th 1995 12:30pm

I am lacerated by coral, bitten by bedbugs, scorched by the sun, and beaten of spirit. My neck hurts because I had to sleep on the floor to get away from the bedbugs. The sky is hatefully blue and the sun is merciless.

I smell bad, too, of course.

Evidently it didn't occur to me to change hotels or take a shower. Self-pity bordering on self-abuse.

Then of course we can see some energetically purple prose:

Saturday August 26th, 1995 7:15pm

Endless sheets of poisonous rain fall on traffic-clogged streets ... a real turd-floater, as English Teacher D called it.

It's been raining like fuck for hours now. I'm in a maniacal sort of mood, playing with my butterfly knife.

And naturally I see plenty of dismissive social criticism as well as self-pity:

Sunday August 27th, 1995 11:30pm

Hole in the Wall bar filled with losers and miscreants. Stray cats and stray hippies. Somebody's got a laser pointer, shining it around.

1:52 am -- Moment of reflection -- this gonna be your life, X, stumbling around foreign streets full of would-be counterculturals?
Moment of realization: well, yeah. maybe.

I don't know what I want out of life, but I know I want two of them.

(Already quick with a pithy sound-bite, even at age 25.)

But there are a few charming details that had escaped me, like:

Monday September 4th, 1995 10:45pm

After I got home I was jacking off in the room and I'd forgotten to lock the door, and one of the stupid Japanese hippies started to walk in. Don't know if he saw me, because he quickly backed off.
"Solly" he said through the door.

After that, I saw a cockroach on my shelf. I slammed a can of shaving cream down on it, the concave bottom severing its head and trapping its body. I moved the can and the body scurried around in a circle, twitching spasmodically. The head kept twitching, too, the antennae thrashing.
I put them both in the garbage bag, and after an hour they were still moving around; not just relfexive twitching, either, but purposeful (if disoriented) movement.

Check back five days from now, and you can read some journal entries about the first time I saw Oh, the lovely young gold-hearted prostitute I wrote about in TO TRAVEL HOPELESSLY.


brian said...

Ah, Generation X, hyper-articulate, generally mopey, totally self-absorbed, and possesing occasional moments of insight. Aint' we grand? At least we're not destroying the economy with debt and impossible to sustain social programs. This is only because we never had the political jiuce to do so. Great stuff.

brian said...

Although my spelling still needs work.... blech

Anonymous said...

When does your grammar book come out?

English Teacher X said...

I'll try to get it out by the end of August. I am inexcusably lazy with that one, I must admit.