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Thailand: Day 1

I woke up for breakfast this morning and found myself face to face with what I believe to be every Muslim’s secret dream, the unspoken wish bubbling deep within: Beef Bacon. I stood at the buffet for what seemed like a thousand years, trying to decide if this is was the real life or just a fantasy before doing a backflip and taking three.

A note to every person in my lifetime that told me how much I was missing out when it comes to bacon: I do not understand. It tastes like Slim Jim. Total downer.

After eating my weight in shrimp dumplings and and noodles and dragonfruit (how everyone in this country is so skinny is the Eighth Wonder of the world) we set off to see the most beautiful temples I have ever seen in my entire life.

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ImageIt was in this temple above where a Thai monk blessed me. Karim and I knelt in the front while he flicked holy water and tied ropes to our wrists. I’m completely in awe of the unconditional love and relentless peacefulness of this culture.ImageThe Reclining Buddha was so huge it put the broken feet statue of Lost to SHAME. We visited four temples and the royal palace, each more gorgeous and elaborate than the next. I’m tempted to post all 707 photos I took today.

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We took a small boat to a restaurant by the river and returned about 70 pound heavier. We sunk the boat. Back at the hotel, a mini army of massage masters we met at the palace were there to essentially beat the crap out of my entire family. I am baffled by the people that claim to fall asleep during these things. I spent a good chunk of the time biting my pillow, trying with all my might not to scream or laugh or kick her in the face. It was the smallest lady in the universe vs. the tallest Egyptian in history, and she won by a landslide. Afterwards, my parents came into the room and we spent a good half hour laughing about getting our butts massaged. I spent the evening finishing A Thousand Splendid Suns by the pool and watching the sunset.

In short (after the long), Thailand is gorgeous. I’m in love with the way people bow to each other to say hello and thank you and how much they love their king. I’m in love with Buddhism, Pad Thai, and the little Thai umbrella I bought for the sun. And I’m already excited about tomorrow, when we visit the floating river markets.

Chan ra Meung Thai. Kob Khun Ka for reading.

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Notes from Gate 32 in Hong Kong

It’s 6 am in Hong Kong, and I’m sitting at Gate 32 waiting for my connecting flight to Thailand. My trip so far has been a series of me sitting in different chairs around the world for so long that my ass has permanently molded into a flat desktop.

There are about 50 people in this entire airport and I am taller than all of them, except for the one that is my father. Karim and my dad spent a collective twenty minutes trying to explain to me that concepts of crossing the dateline and technically jumping forward in time, but I spaced out halfway through and I’m confused about what day it was and what phenomenon of which I was just a part of. All I know is that it was a 14 hour flight to get here and this city is so humid that my afro grew an afro. I watched “Knocked Up” followed by “This is 40,” 3% because my iPod died, 2% to drown out the siren of a girl behind me, and 95% because of Paul Rudd’s face. If God made the world in six days, I’m certain he spent two on trees and hamsters and crap and four of them planning Paul’s face. It’s ridiculous.

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I want to point out that airplane food is bullshit. There was an option of microwaved omelette or something called congee, and I went with the one that sounded cuter. It wasn’t cute.

ingredients are bullshit and the outputs of a leaky infant

ingredients are bullshit and the outputs of a leaky infant

The great thing about this flight was that they had a camera attached to the bottom of the plane whose footage you can watch live.

Witnessing a plane departing from a midnight city was just as beautiful as watching is come into China at daybreak. It was also nice to be able to visually affirm that the sketchy turbulence was the plane flying through a cloud and not towards King Kong or anything.

Anyway, the sunrise in Hong Kong is beautiful. The only thing that gets me is that all of the huge buildings look exactly the same. I can’t help but think that I would forget which one was the building of my workplace. The possibilities of awkward moments are endless…

My next flight, the one to Thailand, is four hours long. น่าตื่นตาตื่นใจ!

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In defense of “We Can’t Stop,” aka Just Bein’ Miley

(watch before reading)

Many who have watched Miley Cyrus’ new music video for “We Can’t Stop” call it the weirdest, most uncomfortable video they’ve seen. Little do they know the backstory of all the individuals in the video who allegedly Can’t Stop:

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A guy with a money sandwich: David had come to the party immediately after a 6 hour shift at Safeway, and was starving. He had opened Miley’s fridge to find nothing but sugar, some of Jefferson’s bread, and 68 kilos of heroin. Desperate, David opens Miley’s pantry to find hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. Sighing, he makes himself a sandwich, wondering why They Can’t Stop. 

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A boy whose smoking, burning genitals require immediate medical attention. Poor Kevin doesn’t want to ruin Miley’s party so he just smiles and looks down, praying to God Almighty that nobody can see his tears. It must have been something in the hot dog he pulled out of the pinata. But hey, they Can’t Stop. Not even for flammable genitals.

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A girl whose severed fingers require medical attention. After slicing her fingers off as a holy sacrifice to the Twerk Team, poor Susan watches in horror as her stumps begin oozing not blood, but Pepto Bismol. This girl’s problems are embarrassing on several levels, and are likely to ruin Miley’s party, so Susan has to suck it up and somehow make her fatal issues sensual. She looks at us, sexy pout complementing her stumpy, bleeding fingers, and whispers an arousing “Ow.” The camera cuts off before we see Miley licking Susan’s dead body. They can’t stop. 

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A guy with way too much sliced bread. Miley decided to invite to her party That One Guy that never gets invited to anything. Bad idea. Jefferson misread the invite to the “We Can’t Stop” party, and proceeds to bring his 70 pound collection of sliced white bread to her living room, shoving slice after slice into his mouth as the party watches, too embarrassed to ask him To Stop.

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A guy that kicks Miley in the head while she’s wrestling with a girl in a sea of hot dogs. This is my favorite party guest. I want him to Never Stop.

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The girl with lips painted a few inches off from where they should be: Lindsay is a single mother who hasn’t left the house since her daughter was born. Miley called her and insisted she come, promising that there would be many good looking prospects and that it would be a good idea to put herself back into the game. Upon arriving, Miley took one look at her and told her to “twerk it up a little,” ushering Lindsay into her bathroom with a tube of her least diseased red lipstick. Lindsay realizes that Miley forgot to pay the electricity bill, and in the dark, dank bathroom, attempts to put on lipstick as accurately as she could. She should have stopped, but They Can’t Stop.

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The taxidermic animals: Old Helen across the street was invited by accident. Honored to finally be welcomed by Miley, she had arrived with her 7 cats, eager to show Miley her precious pets. She leaves for a few minutes and comes back to find Miley had killed all of her cats, using their insides as hot dogs for her pinata.

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The hot dog pinata: See above. 

I don’t know if Miley needs someone to talk to or just a long walk in a park, but 5 out of 5 doctors agree that perhaps it’s time To Stop.

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Something I’ve always wondered.

Do birds think planes are God?

What the hell is a pigeon supposed to think when it comes across a massive, titanium superPigeon that:

1. Doesn’t have to flap

2. Flies higher in the sky and faster through the clouds than the Pigeon Usain Bolt on its good day

3. Never stops to poop

And if pigeons are curious enough to follow a plane to the airport and find it unrelentingly engulfing hundreds upon hundreds of the Human Beings that traumatize their Pigeon Women and Pigeon Children on land, what other conclusion could they come up with?

It obviously leads to the greater question of whether or not animals practice faith or belief in a power that created them, but I honestly don’t know. If “dogs go to heaven,” do they have to pray to earn it? Are they obligated to be upstanding citizens of the dog race?

Through science and history it’s been established that animals’ sole purpose is to survive long enough to leave healthy offspring. Humans and dolphins are the only ones that have sex for fun, anyway. So when we wipe tears and promise ourselves that our dead dogs go to heaven, are we saying that because they were good dogs that were nice to others and loving? If that’s the case, shouldn’t it be the same for humans?

Do birds think Southwest is God?

Does it matter?

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the three best moments from Before Sunset.

I’m not a gooey romantic person. I’m more drawn to nasty movies with arms getting chopped off and movies in which anchormen drink milk, but the Before Sunrise trilogy melted my stone cold heart. I watched Before Sunrise a few years ago after someone recommended it to me. For the people that aren’t familiar with the movie, it’s about this thoughtful, horny, irritating but endearing American named Jesse Wallace who meets a French girl reading on a train. The two start talking, and by the time they reach Jesse’s stop, Paris, he asks Celine if she wants to accompany him, to which she agrees. The movie is about the night they spend walking around Paris and the profound conversations they have. I remembered this movie randomly the other day and decide to watch it’s sequel. While the first movie is beautiful in its story about meeting someone and falling in love quickly and miraculously, the sequel is beautiful in the sense that it explores the question of what to do when you have a second chance with the one that got away. In Before Sunset, which I saw yesterday, they meet again after nine years, and have only an hour to catch up before Jesse has to go back to New York to his wife and child. It’s a slow paced movie, with most of the footage being filmed by a really dedicated cameraman walking backwards through Paris. Still, it managed to blow me away.

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The three most incredible moments in Before Sunset:

1. The moment when Jesse first sees her at his Meet & Greet. There’s no music, no light or wind  in her hair, no dramatic eruption of song or sprinkles. She’s just another fan smiling down at him while he tries to explain that every book is partly biographical and well, yes, it is true he met a beautiful French girl on a train many years ago. But she’s there in the back, and it’s so beautifully done: the way that the guy is trying to keep it together and finish signing books and saying goodbye so he can say a hello that he’s been holding in his mouth for nearly a decade. His “I got this under control” demeanor is given away by his constant fidgeting and glancing to make sure she’s still there.

"But then I think that I might have given up... on the whole idea of romantic love. That I might have put it to bed that... day when you weren't there. You know, I think I might have done that."

“But then I think that I might have given up…
on the whole idea of romantic love.
That I might have put it to bed that… day when you weren’t there.
You know, I think I might have done that.”

2. The car ride to her house.

“But then I have these dreams… I have these dreams, you know, that…I’m standing on a platform…

…and you keep going by on a train and you go by, and you go by, and you go by, you go by.

And I wake up with the fucking sweats.

And then I have this other dream…where you’re pregnant in bed beside me naked…

…and I want so badly to touch you, but you tell me not to and you look away.

And I touch you anyway, right on your ankle, and your skin is so soft that I wake up in sobs, all right?

My wife is there looking at me, and I feel I’m a million miles from her.”

And Celine does this gesture as he’s sputtering and frantically telling her TMI of everything that was lost when she didn’t show up six months after they met like she promised and she reaches out to touch the back of his head. And you can see that she’s stops because he’s in an unhappy marriage and she has a life back home and it’s nine years too late, so she puts her hand back in her lap and has the face of loss and complete confusion. It’s the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen.

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3. That ending. Definitely top ten most perfect cinematic endings of all movie history. I can’t ruin it but if anyone is reading this, please stop and watch this movie.

It’s been years since I watched the first one, and after remembering it has a sequel and watching it, I google Before Midnight, the third and final part, and find that it’s playing right now in Santana Row. It’s amazing to me that all of the movies are released nine years after the one before it, and that this one was released just last week and I happened to come across it by chance. If anyone wants to see it, holler at me.

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Things you missed out on while you slept tonight.

I guess standing in the sun all day during grad practice has caused me to contract a  completely unjustified fever. As a result, tonight I slept from midnight to 2 am. Little did the world know, as they were busy being stupid and getting eight hours, a single lamp shining through the window of a house on Blankety Blank Drive (not this time, ya creeps) was shedding light on the epitome of productivity. Here’s what I got done while you didn’t:

– Watching a stream of Youtube videos, all titled with variations of “Eerily Convincing Ghost Video…Must WATCH”

– A handful of subsequent bathroom breaks to calm down after watching a video of arms growing out of the ceiling

– A subsequent walk up and down the hallway to calm down after watching a video of ARMS GROWING OUT OF THE CEILING

– 3 cold teriyaki wings

– the slowest download of the first season of Game of Thrones known to man

– a brief conversation with an Australian

– two bowls of cereal

– the majority of the Foals discography

– 80 different sleeping positions, some of which could make me a millionaire yoga instuctor

– a potato wedge

– A tylenol that expired in 2010

– a fit of epilepsy from said tylenol

– just kidding

– tomorrow will be a peach

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My baccalaureate speech

Good evening class of 2013. Thank you all for taking time out of your Monday of doing nothing but sitting in the sun and watching Netflix to come together one last time before graduation. This is the last time you’re going to have to do this. This is the last week of four years that you’re going to have to get out of that bed you’ve gotten out of for the majority of your lives. 

We woke up from houses on Pruneridge, Calvert, Capistrano, sometimes late, sometimes on time, never early. Day in day out we walked, drove, unicycled here. We’re pulled out of our rooms and we all meet in the same place, with the construction that sometimes smells like farts and a massive makeshift senior lawn that really didn’t work out too well. Out of all of the details in our life, the fact that we meet at the same school on Finch Avenue every morning is the only thing we have in common. But it’s a force so huge and a common thread so significant. The circumstances that brings us sitting side by side in Physics or Lit or History every morning are all chance, but the relationships we fostered and the growth that we encountered while we were there were tremendous.

 

I don’t remember what I was studying at four in the morning. I can’t recall the different chemicals in a tree or the score of that basketball game when I was Dusty and I tumbled down the bleachers in an unstoppable snowball of padding and fear. I forgot the jokes whispered backstage and what we put on our sandwiches back when we were freshman and the Subway down the street was our life-source. But I remember all the ways people have affected me. I remember who wiped the tears and those who stuck around to wipe the snot too. I will never forget the road trips, the Safeway runs, and the conversations in the dressing rooms. I will always have the  stories that became memories. Maybe it was a well timed hug, a shared hard day’s night, or a miraculous water polo pass. Little details that remind me that moments like these are nothing short of special and deserve to be remembered until I’m old and gray and want to look back on things that made me smile. 

 

I can’t explain the lessons I’ve learned because to put them into words instead of feelings and to deliver them in summary on a podium would be a disservice to them. Because lesson number one is Sparknotes on anything can only get you so far. All I can suggest is that you remember the things you learned here. Learning lessons isn’t enough. It’s keeping it alive through daily consciousness.

 

I know that this far into the game, you don’t want advice from a girl who still doesn’t own a pair of matching socks. I have no idea what college is like. I have no idea how to survive a day without the comfort of my mom’s cooking. And even if I can see my own future, live my own future, I can’t even begin to imagine the different places we will all go after Thursday. But what I do know is that I’ve spent an enormous amount of time getting to know all of you as friends, as classmates, as dates to formal. Being among all of you is being among people with kindness and integrity, something we had rarely witnessed back in middle school, if we were even looking. But we have all grown to be people with character and warmth, and I am certain that for people like that, the future is always going to be bright.

 

We often get grouped into the all encompassing label of the members of the class of 2013. Collectively, we’re known as the class born in the straight middle of the nineties, the class that won the prestigious and not at all strained title as the third underclassmen in 53 years to win a rally. The class that brought 80 people to learn dances to Double Rainbow, High School Musical, and a lot of gangster rap that I’m not cool enough to remember. The important thing I want to remind you all is that this magic, this charm we get from being in this class, has absolutely nothing to do with the title. The year we were born does not determine how great we are. Never forget that the greatness comes from each individual that sits here today. In the past four years, I’ve met a guy that can solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. A guy that makes rosemary chicken so good it can make you forget your name. Kids that write their own plays. And people that have truly experienced the worst of times and still had the courage to cheer us on while we were at our best. 

 

We each had a different high school experience. Our days were all unlike each other’s, but our lives touched each other for briefly, weaving in and out of sync. It’s like hiking up Mission Peak and running into that one perky chick that’s already on her way down and looking at her in the eyes and seeing not the death that you feel in the core of your soul but the hope because there is a finish line and it’s possible to go there. And when you make contact you realize that you’re both in the same place at the exact same time like some kind of miracle and even if you don’t know where she came from or where she’s going, right now in this moment you might as well be identical, up until the moment you part to haul your butt up the hill while she coasts down at a breezy million miles an hour. These fleeting moments, the eye contact before the blink, has meant the world to me, and meeting, learning and growing from the experiences we were able to share has been an honor. We all cry at four in the morning because your museum project took all night and we feel like we’re the loneliest person in the world… and then in second period we see Ophelia’s bleary eyes and a scrap of paper stuck to her elbow and we realize all of our personal bubbles are floating in the same bathtub.

 

On behalf of our entire class, I want to extend a huge thank you to the faculty that made this such a beautiful place to go to school, and to our parents that took over when we dropped our backpacks and fell onto to the couch. And to the class of 2013. It has been an honor being your ASB President. I’d walk a thousand miles for you. I wish you luck love and happiness. Congratulations!