Archives for posts with tag: friends

… so this happened a couple of weeks ago ( every train in my life is running a little behind schedule right now! ) but it still made me very very happy.

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Okay, so its not really about how many books I have read but I like the keeping track of the evidence of how much of my time I am spending BY CHOICE on reading.

As a quick aside the strangest and best part of this journey towards reading more is that what seems like a solitary activity has landed up being ( thanks in large part to social media) a way to renew old friendship and also make new friends.

And the best part.. we already have so much in common!

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One of many outdoor teas with our students.

Once upon a time I did my dissertation field work at an educational institution in rural Bhutan. As part of the condition for being there I had to teach classes in a brand new program and worked with a group of young enthusiastic first time teachers, who became important allies and eventually good friends.  Many of them stayed on at the institution even as a I finished my degree and returned to the capital.

We stayed in touch. When they are in the capital ( which is a full two days away by car) we meet up for drinks or a meal and swap news and gossip. When they are not in the capital we still electronically share classroom stories, resources and inside jokes. But this week I had the rare and wonderful pleasure of getting to spend three whole days  with two of these friends. As academics we were officially invited to participate in a three day workshop held at a fancy hotel downtown.

 

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Just like in the old days we found a table in the back that gave us the room to whisper, make jokes and safely roll our eyes at the occasional displays of pompous-ness and sexism ( amazing how often the two of those are correlated). But the workshop also proved to be well organized, interesting and provided plenty of opportunity for rich discussion. I was consistently glad to be able to be having these conversations with my smart and frequently irreverent friends.

So that is what I loved this week the opportunity to be able to catch up with old friends at an engaging workshop. It was sort of  like a holiday for nerdy people.

 

 

 

 

 

So a friend of mine owns a bar where he mostly serves friends and relatives.He has good cocktails, a nice relaxed vibe and far too few customers. So on a whim I came up with a promotional event for the bar that I hoped would bring in some new customers. I would give a free tarot reading to anyone who bought a cocktail. (Now I have never charged for a tarot readings so  my tarot readings are always free but lets not get all technical here!)  If you know me, you know that this was not completely a “goodness of my heart” type offer. I love reading tarot and am always looking for opportunities to read for people.  So really it was set up to be something that was good for both my bar-owning friend and me.

My brother made us a lovely image to use. We made a facebook event and watched with delight as people committed to coming.  My friend brought more olives.

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And then it was the 12th and my sister and brother came with me to sit up a table in the corner of the bar, with a fun lamp. I started at 8 pm with my first reading and didn’t take a break until midnight after friends had repeatedly come by the table to ask ” Are you okay? Do you need another drink?” I was so engrossed I hadn’t noticed  how long I had been sitting there. I did notice a small fight when one group of vocal girls started to get pushy about whose turn it “really” was.  By the end of the evening I had done readings for nearly 30 people. I had reassured people about their love lives, their career transitions and their business plans. I got lots of hugs and free cocktails. For the first time I actually didn’t just enjoy doing the readings and talking to people but I actually felt like I might be good at it.

 

I loved being tarot queen for the night and would totally totally totally do it again in a heartbeat.

 

While I did my undergraduate degree in Australia I learnt most of my Aussie slang from my friend Eliza.  Particularly mystifying to me as a foreigner was the Australian fondness for using  diminutives, so university was uni, football was footy and arvo meant afternoon. (Quick aside no surprise then that the word “selfie” was coined here). Most amusingly Eliza referred to those intense, late-night heart to hearts that is so typical  for college student as “D & Ms,” short for “deep and meaningful” she explained.

Later during my Arizona days Sarah picked up the term from me– equally amused by the thought of reducing something that felt profound to an abbreviation.  Needless to say Sarah and I had many a D & M during my Arizona days. Now we talk far less frequently BUT I love that our conversations retain the same level of depth and intensity. Its seems that no matter how long its been since we last talk we have no problem slipping back into familiarity and earnestness that I have yet to get to with any friends in Bhutan.

But even more than that I love that our  D &M have always swung from the profound to the absurd, the deeply felt to the almost frivolous. In some ways I love that our friendship and our conversations have always accommodated both ends of the spectrum.

 

So what I love this week is the long over-due D &M Sarah and I had this morning. We talked about stomach churning office politics, current anxieties and fear and then “The Real Housewives of Melbourne.”

 

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Yes, you read that right, ” The Real Housewives of Melbourne.”  And as we always do, we treated the show we level of analysis and seriousness that we bring to everything else we  D&M-ed about.

And I love that. I love that so much.

So lately life has felt rushed, stressed and lonely. Work has been relentless and often unrewarding. I have such mixed feelings about how I spend my days but feel like I rarely have the time or energy for genuine introspection.  I rarely even find the time to do things I like doing like reading fiction, blogging, or even painting my nails.

Worst of all I feel like I have been a bad auntie. I don’t get to see my two nephews in town very much and I almost forgot the birthdays of my “first born” nieces this summer. Technically these girls are not blood relatives, they are the daughters of my middle school and high school roommate. She had no siblings and we grew up like sisters ( with all the knowledge  and familiarity that comes from close quarters and constant everyday interactions) and when the girls came along it seem natural for me to  encourage them to call me auntie. Mostly I am a good auntie, owwing and ahhing over cute photos, visiting when I can (which admittedly since I moved continent is not been possible), skype conversations in which I patiently watched as the older one attempted sommersaults or the dance moves she had just learnt and of course remembering birthdays.

This year  I was especially late, the gifts eventually went but embarrassingly behind schedule …  and yes despite that I got the below in the mail last week  

 

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 And I am reminded of why I love being an auntie—- even when I am occasionally a bad one. 

I was feeling a little rejected and dejected today after yet another less then promising  encounter with someone I really really wanted to get to know better (apparently that feeling is not so mutual) .

 

As thought she read my mind a friend posted something on facebook  that reminded me that its okay if not everyone likes you, that this isn’t an indication that there is something wrong with you. Better yet another friend heartily endorsed that sentiment.

Here is the post and some of our comments:

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So besides some fun facebook banter ( which I also love), I love the reminder that someone not liking you is not an excuse for self-pity or self-doubt.

 

Now pour me a drink!

Every winter in Bhutan I miss the mild warmth of Arizona at that time of year but in the spring time when Thimphu turns pink and white and yellow and neon green, I am happy to be here.

 

When I lived in Eastern Bhutan about four years ago I spent all spring pointing out flowers and tree and interesting plants. Finally one of my friends ( who was often the person I was addressed when I said, ” look at that flower!”)  asked me if I thought I was John Keats ( the English romantic poet). Honestly I am not even that familiar with his poetry but it was such an unexpectedly funny comment that its continues to be an inside joke that comes back every spring.

Here is what he put on my Facebook wall as soon as things started to bloom in Eastern Bhutan ( where he sadly still lives, a two day car ride away)

 

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Inside jokes, specially long standing ones like this one are such a mood booster. I can’t even explain why but this made me smile for days.

It took me a couple of days to put my response up on Facebook. I have to say that having an excuse to take spring time photos is no hardship!

 

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Spring time and old inside jokes are a combination I have come to love and they both make me so hopefully about all the potential that the year has for beauty, for friendship and for fun.  I love that feelings so much. So much.

I had been feeling a little sorry for myself lately ( the usually cocktail of loneliness,  disconnection and nostalgia)  but then a lovely email with the subject ” Thank you”  appeared in my inbox this morning to disrupt my self pity.  The sender was an old friend, someone I had enjoyed working but who I was only sporadically in touch since she moved away.  She wrote:

“Hello lovely lady,

You have been on my mind lately and I’m long overdue sending you an email.

 In my forever quest to live gratitude, I am trying to continually remind those people that took the time to nurture me as a human and friend how much they mean to me – and of course you are one of those amazing people! And no matter how much time and distance separates that, I want you to know what an important part of my story you are and how grateful I am to carry your light with me”

 

I love that this email made me feel missed BUT also that in her typically generous way the sender reminded me that I need to maybe “live gratitude” a little more myself.

These are the kind of reminders that I not just ❤ but that I also  regularly need ( particularly during bouts of extreme self-pity)!

This I really really ❤

 

 

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I have now been in Bhutan a little over a year and I still feel pretty friendless. Sure I know a lot more people then I did a year ago.  And some of them are fun, interesting, inspiring and even occasionally really good company.  But I can’t call any of them and make spontaneous plans,  A walk, a drink, a coffee. In fact too many time I can’t even really count on any of them to show up when we make plans in advance. They rarely show up for things that I spent time organizing, even when I explicitly invite them.  Admittedly there are also invitations I turn down, people who I decide I don’t want to get to know better, who I don’t want to tell my secrets hurts and hopes to.

I whine aloud about my friendless state  frequently. And I think about it a lot in private too. Once in a while it keeps me up– is it me? Am I too boring? Too lame? Too unfriend-like?

I tell me students all the time that  skills worth having : writing well, thinking critically, being a good public speaker require, hard work and practice.  Yet like all good advice that is much easier to explain to someone then apply in your own life. Which is why this article about the work that goes into making friend as an adult made me happy. The analogy of courting  was perfect because just like in romance the potential for being disappointing , for realizing there is no chemistry, for getting rejected and hurt, that is all there too.

And knowing that is not just me, that lots of other perfectly normal and interesting adults in way cooler cities are finding making friends hard is such a relief.

Time to roll up my sleeves and get back out there!