Monday, January 03, 2005

The (Reluctant) Graduate

There's a saying in Thai that goes a little something like this: "There are two days in a woman's life when she will look her prettiest. The first day being her wedding day, of course, and the second day being her graduation day." In reference to the graduation day comment, I'm not very sure if it's possible to look your prettiest when you're sweating like a pig in the midday not-so-very-winterly-anymore sun in a heavy graduation robe. But nevertheless, I must say that many of my graduating friends that day did look their absolute prettiest!

So graduation was on the 26th of December this year, that day being the day after Christmas as well as Siri and my dad's birthday. Because I had to wake up at the crack ass of dawn on the morning of the rehearsal on the 25th, I had to miss the midnight Christmas Eve mass on the night of the 24th. As if there weren't enough reasons already, there's one more right there for God to strike me down with a bolt of lightening.

Anyways, my personal slave (I mean, my awesome brother) had offered to be my photographer for the day. As is the Thai people's natural habit, however, everyone else went completely overboard and hired professional makeup artists to do their hair and makeup as well as professional photographers to follow them around and take photos of them at every possible moment. And I'm not kidding here. They were everywhere - in your face snapping pictures up your nose of your sweaty face and dribbling makeup while you ate, sat, drank... I would honestly not be the slightest bit surprised if someone told me that their photographer had followed them into the toilet. Anyways, I told Jason that if he took even a single sweaty-faced, up-your-nose pic, I would personally pummel him myself. (Of course, we will just overlook the fact that he is a good 7 inches taller than me and could easily pummel me with a jab of his finger.)

But without further ado, here we go!

Kai and I helping Jeab with her gown.

The rest of the faculty and I headed for the football field
to get ready for the professional group pics.

With the heavy gown, hat, and scorching morning sun
beating down on our faces, I mentally willed my makeup not to drip.

"Do not melt. Do not drip. DO NOT MELT."

Priya, Jeab, me

I've been walking past this lake for four years now, and this is
the first time I've ever noticed just how brown and murky it is.
I have an uncanny feeling that, besides fish, there must also be a large variety of other swimming organisms in there that the botany department will find extremely interesting.

The university peacock float.
Look at it preen. Actually, it has every right to.
It won first place in some float competition.

Back at the science building for some more pics.
Can you spot Lynn the galumphing giant?

Here I am with my roon nong.
There's a real sense of family in Thai universities. When you enter your first year of university, all the other sophomores, juniors and seniors (or in Thai, roon pi) will make every effort to make the transition into uni as easy and smooth as possible for their roon nong. They'll tutor you, take you out to lunch and dinner, give you old exam papers - basically be your big brother/sister.

With another roon nong of mine - Nong Thaw.

And even more roon nong.

Our old physiology teacher just happened to pass by.
She used to scare the shit out of me
and everyone else in my sophomore year.
I only found out this year that she's actually really funny and incredibly nice.

P'Ying and me with our newest friend.

Now why couldn't my real university ID card look this cool?

View from the 6th floor of the Science building.
I'm so gonna miss my uni.

Coke, Dao, Kai, Pun, P'Ying, me

A bouquet of flowers from some of my roon nong.

Goy, Lin, me, and, uh, someone else who's name I've forgotten.
Don't you hate it when that happens? You see someone who's name you've completely forgotten, but have to pretend you haven't while carrying out an entire conversation with them feeling like a complete ass?
I felt sooo bad, but in my defense, I never really knew her that well and haven't seen her for well over two years.

My roon nong are the best.

Waan and Tha stopped by, too.

Sigh, my chest is just so irresistable.

Really irresistable.

Me and my lovely parents. :)

Later we left the Science building to search for some of my relatives.

After much searching, we finally found them.
My aunt, cousin, P'Chun, and his wife drove 3 hours from Korat just to attend my graduation, which I thought was incredibly thoughtful of them.

With the family.
In my first year of uni, our roon pi took us here to pay respects to Buddha and ask that he grant us with the determination, focus and knowledge to successfully graduate.
I'm not so sure about focus, as I've been guilty of staying up till the wee hours of the morning working at the last minute on 20-page papers at least a gazillion times or so in the past. :P

Siri arrived a little later...

As did P'Geng.

My other cousin P'May was also graduating, so she swung on by, too.

I have...

the cutest...

baby cousin...

in the world...

Wouldn't you agree?

Guggy Monster also came by.

Traffic around my uni was ridiculously insane,
so Gug actually went and parked her car on the side of the road and hopped onto a motorcycle taxi so that she could get to my uni in time.

Me and my girls. :)

How beary cute.

Maybe you can't tell, but my gross geisha makeup was melting like mad.
Talk about ick.

"Come, my little pretties!"
Siri and Gug helped me lug all the bouquets and stuffed bears around because they were so incredibly heavy.
Thanks, guys.

Heading for the football field to line up.

There were so many people ambling about that day.
People's relatives had driven in from all over the country to attend the graduation, so there were license plates from such far off provinces like Sisaket and Chiang Rai.

OK, see what I mean about really anal photographers?
These shiny UFO discs were used so that they could reflect the sunlight and prevent backlighting... or something.

With P'Ying.

A pretty pink tulip from P'Ying's mom.

One last pic before entering the hall.

And off we go...

OK, now a graduate's role during the graduation ceremony sounds pretty uneventful, right? You go up, get your diploma, smile, and scramble off stage as quickly as you can. However, there was sooo much more to worry about, since Thai graduation ceremonies are all about perfect order and decorum. The following thoughts went through my head 5 seconds before going up on stage.

1.) "Was it right, left, right? Or left, right, left?"
2.) "Do we bow after our name's read, or while it's being read?"
3.) "Is my graduation cap slipping again?"
4.) "Is it going to to slip when I bow?"
5.) "Which direction do we smile when we receive our diploma?"
6.) "Are we even allowed to smile?" (I wasn't allowed to smile when I got my Thai ID card picture, so...)
7.) "Oh crap, my feet are killing me. Stupid shoes. I shouldn't have bought new shoes. My blisters are probably weeping with pus now."
8.) "Oh f*ck, I think one just popped."

Later I found out that not only did one blister pop while I was on stage, but two. Ew. Stupid, shitty, crap-ass shoes!!

The graduation ceremony lasted about 5 hours. 5 hours - now that's an awful lot of names to announce. Naturally, a lot of us fell asleep. After the 3rd hour, I dozed off momentarily and was awoken by some snickering guy from the Engineering Faculty to my right. What the hell? I open my eyes and turn to see the guy next to me taking a picture of me with his camera phone! Arai wa! He deleted it immediately after, though. Maybe the evil daggers I was sending him with my eyes had something to do with such prompt action. I don't know.

Anyways, a few minutes later he offered me a stick of gum. No thanks, I said. Ten minutes later he asked for my name. Five minutes later he asked to see my diploma. Another five minutes later he asked for my number.

LYNN: Ummm, but I don't usually give my number to people I don't even know.
GUY: You know me.
LYNN: No I don't. I don't even know your name.
GUY: Oui.
LYNN: Huh? (At the time I'd thought he'd made a noise... I didn't realize that he was telling me his name because I am a certified dork.)
GUY: Oui. That's my name.
GUY: Besides, the phone number isn't really for me. It's for my friend.
LYNN: Your friend.
GUY: Yeah, he saw you when we were lining up in the tents and heard you speaking English with your friends... and now he wants your number.
LYNN: What? Just because I was speaking English?
GUY: Yes. No. Oh. Uh-oh. No.
LYNN: If your friend really wants my number, maybe he should ask me himself.
GUY: He's kind of shy, though.
LYNN: Where's he sitting?
GUY: (Points in some completely random-ass direction) There.
LYNN: Where? (Turns head in direction of finger)
GUY: (Random pointing again) There.
LYNN: (Tilts head backwards again) Where?
GUY: OK, ok, actually, I wanted your number. (Starts turning fire-engine red.)

Talk about weird. Why am I always meeting weird people? I told you I'm such a freak magnet.

Yay, graduated!

The shiny-faced graduate with her lovely parents.
Bye-bye geisha makeup!
And yes, I know I look like my dad.
When I was a kid I used to hate it when people said that to me
because I used to think it meant I looked like a man.

With my dad and little brother.
And when I say little brother, I obviously mean that in the proverbial sense, because he's totally towering over me in that pic. The really sad thing is that I was wearing 2 inch heels that day, and still I was a midget next to him.
Don't guys continue growing until they're 23 or so?
If the kid's only 15 and is already 6', does that mean he's going to eventually reach freakish Yao Ming heights? I shudder at the thought.

Me & Priya

We later strolled on over to the sala to wait for Caro,
who was running a little late.

I have no idea how this picture managed to turn out
so brilliantly yellow, but is this one gorgeous photo or what?

Caro finally arrived a while later.

As did Kang...

Finally, graduated! :)

Later that night, as I was having dinner with my family and relatives at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel, Adrienne called me on my cell from the US to see if I was safe from the tsunamis. "What tsunamis?" I'd asked, absolutely clueless. Because I'd been cooped up at my uni the entire day, I had no idea about the earthquake and tsunami tragedy prior to her call. In a way, my graduation had been a blessing in disguise because so many of my friends' relatives had flown in from the south, just to attend the graduation. My friend, Priya's family had flown in from Phuket, where they live smack on the boardwalk along Patong beach, to attend the graduation. Because of that, all the members of her family were safe from the tsunamis, thank God.

In other tsunami news, the death toll continues to rise. 156,000. Can you believe it? I feel so utterly helpless, but have tried to help out in all ways possible. When I heard that the Thai Red Cross was in dire need of Rh-negative blood for the hundreds of foreigners who'd been wounded from the tsunamis, I rushed down to Henri Dunant Road to donate my A- blood. I also stopped by Thammasat University briefly on Thursday evening to help serve as a translator for the hundreds of European tourists still stuck here in Thailand. I was later surprised to learn that it wasn't my English they needed for translation, but rather my (ridiculously pitiful) French. Are you sure, I asked. But my French plain sucks. Never mind, they said. Anything will do.

So I talked to a French family and was quick to learn that I had the same level of vocabulary as their two young boys. Actually, that's a total insult to their intelligence. Their 5-year old son probably had better vocab than me! But in all seriousness, I was truly humbled by the heroic stories I heard and brave people I met that day. Any of you living here in Bangkok - if you have a few hours to spare, do take the time to stop by Thammasat or any of the many charity drives to help out. They can really use any help they can get.

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve. Mine wasn't very momentous. Unfortunately, I was unable to go to Ton's "best New Year's Eve party of the decade" on the 55th floor of the absolutely gorgeous State Tower. Instead, I spent New year's Eve at my friend's sister's funeral. My friend's sister had gone down south to scuba dive with some friends the day before Christmas and had tragically passed away while staying at a resort along Khao Lak beach. While the funeral had been incredibly sad and somber, I'm still really glad their family was able to recover her body because maybe they can get some closure now.

In the meantime, please don't forget to pray, everyone, and if you can, do donate. However little will help, whether it be $100, $50, or even $10. Don't forget that that crumpled up dollar bill in your wallet could really go a long way; 1 US dollar could easily buy someone in this part of the world two meals. For an extensive list of various charities and organizations, please visit this page.

Happy New Year, all. Let's hope this year is a good one. :)

Currently Playing: Walk On by U2 (One of my favorite rock groups of all time... and I swear that their being Irish has absolutely nothing to do with it.)

Currently Reading: Eragon By Christopher Paolini


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