That Night by Chevy Stevens: My Spoiler-Safe Review!

Book Cover That Night, by Chevy Stevens

I hate spoilers so much that I systematically stay clear of all fiction book reviews. I like going in totally blind and usually just rely on friend’s recommendations. Expectations are a pleasure killer.

So let me just say this: one chapter in, I couldn’t put the book down. Seriously. I was in Mexico and I was supposed to be looking after my kids. By chapter two, I knew a small sacrifice had to be made to ensure I could lay in bed reading all day. I did the unthinkable for a gringa and brushed my teeth with tap water. BINGO! Totally sanctioned bed rest for two days. Had I not been ill, I probably would have finished the book in a day.

That Night is about a young woman named Toni and her boyfriend Ryan who are locked away for 15-20 years for killing Toni’s sister. The book travels between the past and the present, retelling the story of her youth, along with her release from prison and what comes next after losing half her life for a crime she claims she hasn’t committed.

The writer captures the horrors of high school clicks so familiar for those of us who never really fit it. She also skillfully portrays the misunderstanding between the protagonist and her mother; how the mother can only see a young girl spinning out of control under the perceived bad influence of her  boyfriend. The daughter is frustrated of being seen as the black sheep vs. her angelic sister. As a former rebellious daughter and a mother of two little girls, my heart simultaneously ached for both mother and daughter.

I won’t say much more except that this is a thriller which is more than just a page turner. This book does tells a rich story with engaging and often infuriating characters. And it has an ending I am willing to bet you won’t guess!

I am relieved to be done with the Aztec two-step. It’s a dance I must partake in every time I come to Mexico. If you are coming here soon, I highly recommend you pack a copy of Chevy Steven’s That Night. It will make an otherwise difficult time fly by!

A huge thanks to Raincoast books for sending me a copy of  That Night to review. If you want to know more about the author, the book, and what other readers are saying, check out the #thatnight on twitter!

My First Coup d’Etat: How It Hasn’t Changed Anything For Me -So FAR!

Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 11.21.18 AM

We’ve all been waiting for this to happen which is why I was I perplexed by the BBC’s correspondent when he was quoted saying the martial law came as a surprise here. Sweetie: you should be spending less time frequenting Patpong, and more time sober and talking to people. It was a surprise to you maybe, but not to the rest of us. The only surprise was that it was initially just martial law and not a coup –well not for long!

On that topic,  how smart was it to just invoke martial law saying they were only interested in keeping things safe and help a peaceful resolution? The follow that by getting all the leaders in one room and, after a bit of dissent,  detaining key players and taking control.  Well played sir, well played.

Don’t you just love how I say this as if I’ve experienced a bunch of them? My brother was in  Paraguay for the ’89 coup so I am claiming expertise by association.

Many friends have wondered how this is affecting me. Apparently some people are flying home. If this is true, they are using the coup as an excuse to get out of here. Thai coups are typically sedate as far as coups go and those in power make a big effort to keep things as seamless as possible for foreigners and tourists.

Here’s my list of why, so far, it has changed nothing:

1. Schools are closed for five days, two of which are the weekend. I homeschool so nothing different here.

2. All TV broadcasting is off incl. international news channels. I don’t have an antenna or cable connection for my  TV  Again no change.

3. Ten pm curfew. Bawhahahahaha. I homeschool two kids 6 and under. I am in bed drooling wine by this hour watching Game of Thrones and pretending to prepare tomorrow’s lessons. “Kids, this is how you brew mead!”

4. Um, I can’t think of anything else for the time being. But I’ll be sure to update you all.

So, it’s official. I am a coupbie! Yes that’s coup newbie. Genius right? Sadly not my creation but credit given via twitter. Yes that’s a please follow me on twitter @multilingualmum! It’s also where I am RT some of the more salient stuff related to the current coup.

Readers please note, I am not trying to make light of what is going on here. Well, perhaps I am a bit but that’s my coping mechanism. I just hope that Thailand can find a way to resolve this peacefully and find democratic and lasting solution.

 

From One Expat to Another: Go Home!

gold plane pin on map of thailand

It’s hard enough trying to integrate into a different culture, especially if you barely get by in the language, and particularly if the city is rife with expats, some of whom are often living in fairly luxurious conditions and may have slightly lost touch with reality, as well as others who aren’t living la-vida-expat, and yet, have still lost touch with reality. Can we keep that farang sense of entitlement in check please?

I am no Thai political expert so I won’t go into details. Thailand has been through a number of political upheavals over the years. The country is experiencing one now, with the supporters of the two major parties clashing over the political future of the country. We have faced months of on again, off again protests and road blocks. The violence has been mostly sparse and contained. As far as having to experience political upheaval, we foreigners –a.k.a. Farangs– have had it pretty easy here.

Last week, the country’s supreme court ruled that the current prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra,  had to step down due to an abuse of power. I have no comment on these charges. I neither read nor write Thai and I don’t pass judgment on here-say. This ruling led to an announcements by both groups to march and protest. It was called the ‘final battle’. One should note, if these last few months are anything to go by that Thais like using the word ‘final’ and this battle will likely continue to drag on for some time.

In any event, public transport was packed with people getting to their rally sites. I brilliantly chose this day to head into town to run errands. All the protesters I came across were  in good spirits, donning their ‘colours’ . As I squeezed into the BTS – also called the sky train- I heard a fellow farang with a very sour face say

For f*ck’s sake get a job!

I wanted to go all bat-poop crazy on him but I didn’t. Because culturally, it would have been inappropriate. So here’s my open letter to the guy riding the BTS around Noon on Friday, who said those words as the train filled with passengers at the Sala Daeng station:

 

Dear Farang man, dressed all in black and sporting, in my opinion, way too much jewelry,

Excuse me? Get a job? Who the fuck are you? What do you know about these people? Really? Can you tell me that you know for sure these people don’t work nights, or took off for the long weekend, or took a personal day? Do you know how many of them may be teachers and currently on summer break? What right do you have as a GUEST in this country to pass such judgement based on absolutely ZERO FACTS –though I understand this is all the rage in the US where you, like me, are from.

And on the topic of the US, aren’t we the first to support free speech and people’s right to protest? Where the f*%k do you get off being so rude?

Oh I am so sorry, did these actual citizens of the country you are temporarily living in get in your way? Were you late for an appointment for yet another piercing? Is that a problem for you, that nationals  of their country are using the public transport system put in place for them? If so, may I suggest, from one farang to another:  GO THE F*%K HOME.

You give the rest of us a bad name and you don’t deserve the visa you were issued to be here -if you even have a valid visa.

Oh, and one last thing, the only person who should wear a ring that size -let alone three of them- is the Pope.

Sincerely,

A fed up farang.

 

 

Hilarious Homeschooling: Boobs, Gravity, & Peeing in Space.

children's drawing planet earth and family in space

© Miss P, 5.97 years-old.

There are things that we say, when we think our kids aren’t listening, that come back to haunt us mostly, and occasionally lead to great teachable moments.

This morning, I was laying in bed, when my baby (3.5 years) crawls in, pulls up my t-shirt and starts laughing exclaiming I am not wearing my ‘boob thing’!

Then my nearly six-year-old –and yes I am cherishing every last second of her being five– comes over and declares:

Maman, I heard you once talking on the phone, or iPad, or computer, and you said that if you wore a boob thing your boobs would fall but if you didn’t they could stay up by themselves.

For starters, I am not scientifically illiterate as that statement would suggest. Like all political discourse these days, my words were taken out of context!  What P had overheard was me telling a friend how I couldn’t believe my naïveté, many moons ago, when a hippy friend of mine persuaded me that boobs are muscle and if you don’t work the muscle, etc… You get the picture. How I bought this, despite my stack of National Geographic mags in the corner of my room, is beyond me. Anyhow, running for the bus on a daily basis quickly let me back to my senses before too much ‘damage’ was done.

And here’s where my ninja thinking kicked in. I realised what a great opportunity I had to explain gravity! Because really, what better way to talk about gravity than pairing it with sagging boobs.

 

The rest goes something like this:

paint by number empty paint pots on floorMe, reaching over for one of the many pieces of hoarded tat my kids stuff into my bedside table:

“Watch this empty paint by numbers paint container fall to the floor. See that? If we were in outer-space it would just float away! Instead G-R-A-V-I-T-Y makes it fall to the floor”

I pause, feeling like there is some connection to be made to a previous conversation that had not gone so well.

“Remember when you asked me why we don’t fall off the planet? Gravity is what keeps us there!

My imaginative kid then usually likes to put her own spin on it

“Yes! that’s right, the air, like water but invisible keeps us on the planet!”

Me: Um, not exactly. Remember the… er can’t remember their name in English… you know -les aiments- that pull metal pieces to them?”

P: You mean magnets?

Me: Yes! (sigh when I  realize our entire conversation has been in English and not in French) well it’s sort of the same, the force called gravity pulls us towards earth so we don’t fall off!

Then, I know there is always a sure-fire way to really drive a point home in our household.

Me: So what do you think happens when we go peepee in space?

P: It floats away!

And so the conversation continues with plans for a family vacation in space and how we will handle the possibility of two people pooping while someone needs to peepee if there are only two toilets on the rocket. I am briefly tempted to mention that reading is probably a required skill before boarding a spaceship but I’ve killed the learning moment countless times beating that poor horse. For once, I apply the lesson I repeatedly learn, and suggest she goes make a picture of outer-space.

Et voilà! I’ve not only given my first physics lesson, while sipping tea in bed, I’ve also just bought myself time to write a blog post about it.

****

Afterthoughts on homeschooling/un-schooling and my ongoing neuroses.

1. I am pretty sure there is no way I could have engineered a moment so perfectly to get this conversation going. These are the times where I really think un-schooling  and child-led education is the way to go. Sadly, all too often, I  doubt myself and worry that most of my friends’ kids are already reading or nearly there and mine just has no interest. To push or not to push remains an internal argument I have regularly.

2. The other day we were doing a wonderful activity on our place in the world. (Activity featured on what is currently my favorite educational website: kids world citizen) and P had her usual ‘I CANT’ meltdown when it came to coloring the final paper plate to represent planet earth. I tried to give her tips but refused to do it for her and she walked away in tears, refusing to finish.

So imagine my surprise when she hands me the picture (above) she did of space including planet earth. She described it to me, regurgitating the tips I had given her about drawing. Sometimes I guess we just need to give them a little time and some space. (total accidental pun-ilicious moment!)