Kanye and I are going to cure St. Louis Encephalitis.

DISCLAIMER: The following post may be considered offensive or triggering to mosquitos, victims of mosquito-borne illness, toddlers, and Kanye West.

Today I had a million dollar idea: mosquito net clothing. Imagine, well tailored maxi-dresses, pullovers, and leggings made of mosquito netting, so you could walk around in the jungle or live in your run down shack of a bungalow without being covered in DEET. They’d be like those sheer mumus where your bikini shows through, but really you’re just getting away with walking around in public in your underwear. 

This is especially relevant because one of my fellow Remotes came down with Dengue fever last week and has been in the hospital ever since. I’d bet he’d give a lot of money to my new startup if it meant that he could go back in time and trade in his wardrobe for a closet full of mosquito mumus. And then, once he realized the glory of pants-free living, he’d probably just transition to kilts for the entirety of our Europe leg, because once you’ve experienced the splendor of society-accepted man skirts and the perk of a nice breeze, there’s no going back from that. 

I’d ethically produce the mosquito couture by hiring at-risk women in developing countries, so the project would double as a way to make a tiny, small dent in the sex trade industry. Pay the women a living wage, give a portion these mosquito mumus to areas where all the mosquito diseases are rampant, and my Fall 2017 collection would single handedly stop the spread of malaria, Dengue fever, Japanese Encephalitis, and all the other encephalitises (encephaliti?) caused by mosquitos. Mosquito mumus will even put an end to the oft ignored St. Louis Encephalitis, which is actually a real mosquito-borne disease, and not just a nickname for rabid Cardinals fan.   

I had my life all figured out for about three minutes. I swear, it was the some of the greatest consecutive three minutes of my entire life. Top five, at least. As any good 3-minute old business owner knows, the first rule of any good business idea is to do your research and see what the competition is like:

For when you take your S&M meetup group to the rainforest, or if you want to punish your 13 year old daughter on a family beach vacation to Costa Rica. 

For when you take your S&M meetup group to the rainforest, or if you want to punish your 13 year old daughter on a family beach vacation to Costa Rica. 

For the fashionable father who is looking to make a sexy style statement without detracting from his signature New Balance walking shoes (with arch support!) and kakhi shorts.  

For the fashionable father who is looking to make a sexy style statement without detracting from his signature New Balance walking shoes (with arch support!) and kakhi shorts.  

For direct access to the throat, just in case you need to strangle your jungle-mate or light up a joint and hotbox yourself.

For direct access to the throat, just in case you need to strangle your jungle-mate or light up a joint and hotbox yourself.

For the whole family, because reading inside is for losers. 

For the whole family, because reading inside is for losers. 

I know what you're thinking. Can you forget the mosquito nets and just invent a net that keeps toddlers and babies away from me? Wait, no. That's not what you're thinking. That's what I'm thinking. I digress. 

It's hard to tell whether the mosquito fashion market is begging for my help or overflowing with oodles of mumus. It also seems silly to try and create high fashion (or at least, Kohl's worthy fashion) when apparently, it's rather effective to just smother your children with a mosquito net. That said, Kanye West's latest fashion line is eerily similar to the mosquito mumu aesthetic. Maybe this is where he got his inspiration from. We should collaborate. If anyone out there knows Kanye, tell him to hit me up on Instagram and together, we'll save the world. 

Thailand sucks you in and then tries to kill you.

DISCLAIMER: The following post may be considered offensive or triggering to Obamacare, Thai pharmacists, drone operators, Charles Darwin, and jellyfish. 

You've probably noticed that I've been missing for a week. That's because I've spent all my time trying not to die in Thailand. I've actively had to work very hard at this, because it's pretty clear that Thailand just wants me, and the other 71 remotes, to die. In 7 days, as a collective, we've had: 

  • 7 motorbike crashes requiring a hospital visit
  • 4 people stung by jellyfish
  • 4 evacuations due to excessive cockroaches, ants, and reptiles
  • 1 case of Dengue fever requiring hospitalization
  • 1 drone attack 
  • 1 drunken fall off the back of a pickup truck
  • 1 bicycle faceplant
  • 1 near death by coconut...they just fall from the trees around here.

And we still have 25 days left on this island. To be fair, in Koh Phangan, everyone goes to the hospital when there's a problem. There aren't any clinics, so "going to the hospital" doesn't carry the same weight as it does in the States. Hospitalization, though, that's the same concept. 

One of the seven who crashed his bike also got attacked by his own drone, so technically he was counted twice. (Although, the Darwin Awards would probably break that down into two individually foolish situations, and I generally default to Darwin when I'm trying to analyze these sorts of scenarios. Also, the drone was clearly out of line, because the guy who got attacked is awesome and drones aren't a very good judge of character.)

This was the life...when there wasn't a cockroach on my toothbrush. 

This was the life...when there wasn't a cockroach on my toothbrush. 

I got stung by a school of jellyfish and was evacuated thanks to a series of bugs living in my bungalow, so I also counted myself twice. But, I've also been examined by a pharmacist because I got a scrape over my jellyfish sting and now the whole thing got infected, so if the drugs the Pharmy gave me don't kick in tonight, I'll also end up at the hospital and it'll average out. 

Meanwhile, I've cried every day I've been in Thailand, which is only relevant because in between bouts of crying, I got my scuba diving open water certification. The great thing about that situation is that no one knows you're crying when you're 20 meters under water, so it's really the ultimate decoy. And when you reluctantly pop up and bob on the surface, you just blame the puffiness on the seawater and ill fitting goggles. If that doesn't work, blame it on the school of jellyfish you just swam through. 

A photo posted by Brooke Siem (@brookesiem) on

The sea is quite the metaphor for this place.  The perfectly clear water lets you swim with all the fish, but it's also infested with jellies. A fly pooped in my wound and my leg might fall off, but I can buy all the drugs for cheap without insurance or a prescription. (I'm pretty sure that anyone who has ever dealt with the Obamacare nightmare would willingly lose a foot for the ability to acquire antibiotics without hassle.) A beautiful boat can't be cared for so it just falls sideways and gets stuck in the sand, forever. 

And last night, I was forced to wonder why the bungalow "cleaning" lady decided to change my sheets, but not clean cemetery of dead roaches off my floor. Tonight, I'm sitting on my brand new balcony that overlooks the sea, eating butter with a fork. What a world. 

Fuzzy logic because...Malaysia.

DISCLAIMER: The following post may be considered offensive or triggering to environmentalists, baby seals, the entire country of Malaysia, and charmanders.

If you ever visit Malaysia, you need to know about Malogic. Malogic is Malaysian logic served with a side of inefficiency. It’s automatic hand dryers that are plugged in and turn on, but that management won’t let you use. It’s one mini trash can for a workspace that holds 75 people. It’s moving a meeting up two hours, with only a half hour of notice. It’s backing up on the highway because your Uber driver missed the exit, presumably because that particular exit was full of ghosts. 

Occasionally, malogic also comes with a random side of curry, but I’m pretty sure that’s just a ploy to distract you from the fact that the coffee with cream you ordered still hasn’t been delivered even though it’s been sitting on the pass for twenty minutes, and you’re pretty sure you saw your waiter look at the coffee, consider his options, and then have a round at Pokémon Go instead of bringing that coffee.

And then when he does finally bring that coffee, it’s actually tea. You shut up and drink that tea because it will be another thirty minutes and a charmander before the correct coffee actually comes. Also, it's full of condensed milk, and if you've ever eaten condensed milk with a spoon, you know this is a high compliment. 

Meanwhile, you’re being serenaded by the migraine-inducing whirrrrrrrrr of a cement cutter and a hammer because overnight, someone decided to demolish the perfectly acceptable sidewalk. So yesterday, you had your coffee while sitting on a plastic chair that rested on flat ground. Today, you’re teetering on top of a pile of rubble while some guy cuts individual cement bricks that will one day replace the sidewalk that existed just 12 hours earlier.

Obviously, Kuala Lumpur needs more cobblestone sidewalks.

And because you’re teetering on an unstable chair on top of a construction zone, you spill your “coffee” all over your fuzzy shirt. Your shirt is fuzzy since the washing machine has a “fuzzy” cycle that literally makes your clothes fuzzy, because who doesn't want to intentionally pill all their clothes?

Samsung claims that its "fuzzy logic" setting figures out the optimal settings for the load thanks to some sort of magical washing machine intuition, but all it's really done is turn me into one of those childhood stuffed animals that has been loved to death. 

This plastic napkin cubby is definitely not going to one day choke a baby seal. 

This plastic napkin cubby is definitely not going to one day choke a baby seal. 

You reach for a napkin, but they don’t exist because free range, Malaysian napkins apparently are single handedly killing the environment. When the waiter does bring you your one allotted napkin, it’s in a little plastic cubby, which leads me to conclude that while paper napkins are slowly killing the baby seals, plastic napkin cubbies are definitely not.

Receipts aren’t killing aquamarine life either, because you get a few receipts for everything. Receipts for stinky durian, receipts for using the public bathroom, three receipts for credit card purchases! And a plastic bag for every individual item, just for good measure.


For all the pretty photos and none of the rants, follow Brooke on Instagram @brookesiem.

Give me 3-7 minutes of your time.

DISCLAIMER: The following text may be considered offensive or triggering to large dogs, the person who inspired this post (Thank you. You're welcome. I'm sorry), and people who suffer from any combination of anxiety and depression. 

Today, someone told me my last post was too long. I thought, at least someone is reading it, followed immediately by, what if it is too long? What if it's all just wrong? What if I've already screwed this up? 

Suddenly, I felt very large and encumbering. Like everything I own takes too much space. Like everything I create takes too much space. Like I am too much space. 

So now I'm in a ball on a tiny yellow couch, still in the middle of a shipping container that's settled on top of a rice paddy. When you're struggling with various forms of anxiety and depressive disorders along with a hefty dose of Impostor Syndrome, finding yourself in a ball in the middle of nowhere is actually a relatively common scenario. The shipping container on the rice paddy...well, that's just a perk. 

I find that when I'm feeling the largest, it's best to ball in the smallest chair possible. I think this explains why large dogs always pick the smallest beds. They're trying to fit in and be less space. 

And then I thought about how you're reading this, and how much time you might be willing to dedicate to my musings. I decided you're probably reading it on your phone, from the toilet. If you're home, I figure I've got anywhere from 3-7 minutes to catch your attention, and that's assuming you're not doing anything weird in there. If you're not home, I figure you're in that one office bathroom that nobody knows about, because it's the only place to get some damn privacy. I've got at least 10 minutes of your attention in there. 

After I thought of all that, I thought of the people who regularly excuse themselves in the middle of a meeting in order to have a clandestine text meeting with someone else. That secret bathroom meeting is usually over some sort of sketchy business, so it makes sense that they’d take care of business right after someone else did their business. And then once they finish doing whatever you were doing in there, they walk back into the meeting 25 minutes later and blame their disappearance on GERD.

Balling in a hammock on a rice paddy, or thinking about Beyoncé wind. Sometimes it's hard to tell. 

Balling in a hammock on a rice paddy, or thinking about Beyoncé wind. Sometimes it's hard to tell. 

That last paragraph, about GERD and sketchy business, that's why my posts are so long. It's because this is the way my mind works. When I stop engaging in conversations, it's because I got distracted and am instead thinking about how I can get Beyoncé wind, everyday, all the time. I didn't necessarily get bored with your conversation (though that definitely happens regularly), but you did bring up "Beyoncé" so obviously her interminable wind is the clear tangent. 

It took me exactly 1 minute and 11 seconds to read what I'd written so far. I'm well within the bathroom break time requirement. At least now I have goals. Everyone needs some goals to keep themselves from going full ball on a rice paddy in Malaysia. This is what progress looks like, folks. 




And that's how gambling addicts are made.

DISCLAIMER: The following text may be considered offensive or triggering to any and all clowns, Dreyer’s ice cream, my mother, all three of my grandmothers, Paris Hilton, Native Americans, the Circus Circus Hotel & Casino, and biker gangs.

At four years old, I got cast in a commercial for Circus Circus, a local casino in my hometown that inexplicably combines the circus and gambling.

It’s basically just a ploy to get kids to become lifelong gambling addicts. Their parents, who are no doubt gamblers themselves, take their kids to Circus Circus for some wholesome family fun. Little Jimmy takes his sticky $10 bills and runs off to throw rings on bottlenecks and shoot Indians with a BB gun (Tumblr social justice warriors didn’t exist when Circus Circus opened, so they weren’t around to point out the blatant racism of children’s carnival games.) Meanwhile, mom and dad run off to throw dice on the craps table and flush a college education down the slots.

Then one day, little Jimmy wants to play grown up games, and that’s how gambling addicts are made.

So obviously, the casino desperately needed some four year olds to promote this quality family time. They chose me, because clearly they could see in my little eyes that I would one day love video blackjack.

That kid knows when to double down. 

That kid knows when to double down. 

Tangent: I had a GameBoy as a kid, and my mom would only let me play Tetris, because that was the only game that she considered educational enough. Something about solving puzzles. Well, the joke was on her because not long after I got my GameBoy with Tetris, my mom and dad both started stealing my GameBoy so they could play Tetris. They’d compete to see who could get to 100,000 points the fastest and get the little rocket to go off.

Of course, this meant that I no longer had a GameBoy. The solution was not to cut off this Tetris addiction, but to instead buy two more GameBoys so all three of us could have one. So, my father and I went to the toy store, and we came home with two more Tetris Original cartridges, Tetris Blast, Tetris 2, Tetris Plus, and Caesar’s Palace. Caesar’s Palace is exactly what you think it is...a virtual casino. Mom rationalized that Caesar’s Palace taught me life skills like strategy, odds, and math, so it was deemed educational. Also, eight year old me was already pretty great at blackjack.

Tangent on a tangent, because I’m pretty sure you are wondering how exactly an eight year old got good at blackjack. My grandmother taught me to play. Well, not my grandmother, but my mother’s first husband’s mother. My paternal grandmother, my mother’s second husband’s mother, lived in Seattle, and the only form of communication she could master was lengthy, handwritten letters, so we only communicated as often as one can write lengthy handwritten letters, which is approximately once every six months. My mother’s mother lived down the street from us, but she hated me, so we also communicated once every six months. I didn’t take it too personally. That woman hated everyone.

Back to the important matter, which is why an eight year old was taught to play blackjack while she was getting babysat by a grandmother she wasn’t related to. Auntie Ellie — I called her “Auntie” because none of the lineage made sense and she was the only grandma who cared to watch me — was a blackjack dealer at Harold’s Club in Reno for over 30 years. She was a 4’8” baller. She dealt for Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and was regularly courted by Barron Hilton. I hold Auntie Ellie personally responsible for the existence of Paris Hilton, because if she had just married the man then Paris wouldn’t exist. But if she had married Mr. Hilton, I suppose I wouldn’t have been sitting in her double wide trailer, learning blackjack, just so I could swindle Jimmy on the playground.

Auntie Elie with candy pasties. No wonder Barron was enamored. 

Auntie Elie with candy pasties. No wonder Barron was enamored. 

Anyway, though the people at Circus Circus did not know they had a future elementary school gambling ringleader on their hands, they did think I was cute. They rounded up myself and a few other kids, and we were told that we were going to eat lots of delicious ice cream sundaes in front of the circus game/slot machine monstrosity. They put us in place, got the cameras all set up, and from behind the curtains, a clown brought out the most beautiful ice cream sundaes I’d ever seen. They were in those stemmed, old fashioned sundae glasses with multiple scoops of ice cream piled high. The chocolate sauce was pooled in the crevices between the glass and the bright white ice cream, and each one had a swirl of whipped cream and a perfect red cherry.

With the cameras rolling, the clown placed these works of art down in front of us and told us to dive in. A small group of thrilled four year olds grabbed our comically large spoons and went in for the...FAKE ICE CREAM SUNDAES. Fake! All of them! TV magic at the expense of an innocent child’s dream.

Not only that, and Jimmy and the other unprofessional child actors could not get their four year old shit together, so they kept screwing up the shot, which meant we had to be subject to fake ice cream over and over and over again for hours and hours. What sort of heathens convince a bunch of kids that they’re getting ice cream for breakfast, then bring them fake ice cream sundaes, and then make them experience the trauma repeatedly? Clowns. Clowns and business people who think carnival casinos are a good idea.

We did eventually get real ice cream, but it was like one scoop of melted Dreyer’s in a styrofoam cup. Also, the commercial never even aired, probably because Jimmy kept screwing up.

I asked my mother to confirm this story, because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t write a full blog post about fake ice cream only to have her read it and tell me, “Honey, it wasn’t fake. It was real, you ate four sundaes and puked all over your bed.”

She confirmed that I was remembering that part of the story correctly, but she told me another part of the story that I’d entirely forgotten. This is what she told me, verbatim:

So, the idea was that all of you four year olds were a motorcycle gang rolling into Circus Circus. Of course, the point was that Circus Circus has that big area for kids, with clowns and circus acts and carnival games. You were all on "Big Wheels" and we spent a lot of time at a local cemetery (because it has hills and dirt) filming you guys motoring in a group.  Then the filming moved inside the casino. I still have your vest. I can take a picture of it if you want. I know exactly where it is.
I'm having flashbacks about acid wash clothing. Also, that clown is exceptionally creepy. 

I'm having flashbacks about acid wash clothing. Also, that clown is exceptionally creepy. 

I thought I'd peaked on the day that JWOWW tweeted about my boozy cupcakes, but it turns out that I really peaked on the day I joined a biker gang, trespassed on a cemetery, relieved an ice cream trauma, and was forced to wear a matching denim vest and skirt. Thousands of dollars of therapy was born on this day. Thank God my mom still has the vest, just in case my therapist and I need to work on some sort of immersion therapy.

My original intention for this post was to tell you about how weird my day was today, because today’s weirdness involved a barefoot monk, losing my credit card, a gecko, something called a “Mantis Prawn,” and getting abandoned in the middle of a rice paddy. I really thought that would be sufficient but instead, you got this. This blog is just like when someone brings you fake ice cream or steals your GameBoy. It’s full of disappointment, but if you stick around, there might be some off brand ice cream or a gambling addiction in your future.


You've seen a few great boobs in your life.

DISCLAIMER: The following text may be considered offensive or triggering to any and all babies, the VCR Cafe, 1000 random Facebook acquaintances, tiny cats, and boobs in general. 

Approximately 36 hours after I first invited 1202 people to my sparkly new public Facebook page, exactly 202 of you have clicked the little Like button. 

I have no idea why you are doing this to me. This is terrible. 

I mean, I get that I specifically asked you to "like" my page and that getting you to pay attention to me is essentially the entire point of my shameless self promotion (buy my book! Seriously, go buy it.), but you liking my page now means that I actually have to say something that matters to you. Worse, it means that I have to entertain you. Even worse than worse, you'll never be able to see all the jazz hands that happen when I'm thinking about how to entertain you. I'm wasting all of my jazz hands on 202 people who will never see them in action. Like I said, this is terrible. 

The reality is you're 202 people with 202 different standards, opinions, and ways of life. Every time I tell you a story, or go on a little rant, or share something personal, that's 202 opportunities for ideas to be interpreted as I intended...or interpreted incorrectly. It's 202 opportunities for me to ask myself, "Do they understand what I'm trying to say? Do they understand me? Where are the 1000 other people? I'm trying to be fucking entertaining over here. Jerks."  

You're all lovely, fully-grown humans, but I'd really prefer it all if all 202 of you were three month old babies. I'd just casually starve you for a few hours and then throw a boob at your face. Everyone would be entertained and satisfied for at least twenty minutes, and no one would complain. 

But you're not three month old babies. You have standards. You've seen a few great boobs in your life. If I threw a boob at your face, the collective would probably just sigh and say, "eh, I've seen better." Although, if you forced me to interact with a three month old baby, my reaction would also be, "eh, I've seen better." Please never force me to interact with a three month old baby. 

Since my baby metaphor was derailed by my own dislike of underdeveloped adults, I'm going to pretend that all 202 of you (and one day, all 2.2 million of you) are tiny cats, because tiny cats LOVE my boobs. No creature has ever been so comfortable and entertained with a borderline B cup. This is the real reason why you go full digital nomad, so you can work with kittens in your boobs from a cafe in Malaysia. Fuck three bedroom houses and no lines at Trader Joes. South East Asian cats in boobs is the real American Dream. 

I tried to get out of New York City, but now I'm stuck in Asian New York City

Fuck you, Squarespace. 

I wrote an entire piece that actually encompassed what I'm feeling and between Squarespace and Kuala Lumpur Internet, the entire thing got deleted which pisses me off more than the information in the post itself. 

I'm going to attempt to re-write it in the Squarespace blog editor. Some might call that stupid, but I call it another fuck you to Squarespace. You think you can delete my thoughts, Squarespace? Well you can't, BECAUSE THERE ARE ALWAYS MORE THOUGHTS. The entire problem with my life is that THERE ARE ALWAYS MORE THOUGHTS. The only solution so far as been to medicate the brain out of myself, but we tried that for 15 years and I ended up in a near catatonic life state that resembled something along the lines of a test rat ramming its head into its cage in between bouts of cocaine water. Wake up, go to the bottle of cocaine water, push a button, get cocaine, run on a wheel until your heart almost gives out but not entirely (unfortunately), begrudgingly interact with the Seamless delivery guy, have a breakdown, go to sleep. Wake up and find the cocaine water. 

I may be mixing my metaphors. Also, logic just kicked in. I am now no longer writing this in the Squarespace CMS, but just one more time...fuck you Squarespace for not having a god damned AUTO SAVE FUNCTION in 2016. 

If Malaysia can have fireworks why can't Squarespace have AutoSave? The technology can't be that complicated.

If Malaysia can have fireworks why can't Squarespace have AutoSave? The technology can't be that complicated.

Back to the matter at hand, which is recovering the post about this Remote Year situation I am in. I've been here less than one week, and in that time I have come to just one conclusion: 

I no longer give a shit about presenting this experience wrapped up in a romantic, digital nomad bow. 

For four days, I've attempted to do Remote Year like I'm supposed to do Remote Year. I worked remotely at the communal workspace. I took pretty pictures of weird, foreign things. I gathered with new friends to eat and drink every night. I traveled to two CrossFit gyms, both of which were nearly an hour away, just to try to keep some sense of normalcy and because it's theoretically my job. I set up a blog (this blog...fuck you Squarespace) and wrote a post about the shock and awe of waking up in a new culture, the excitement of meeting 75 new strangers, and the grand adventure we're about to embark on. 

That post hasn't been published (of course that one was saved), because in just 96 hours I've discovered the problem with everything I just mentioned: 

  • I can't get shit done in communal workspaces. 
  • Posting decent pictures of things that don't really mean anything to me...ultimately means nothing to me. 
  • I don't like the way I feel when I drink every night. 
  • I generally prefer eating alone, or with one or two other people. 
  • I loathe having to travel more than 10 minutes to work out. 
  • I'm not in shock or awe about waking up in a new culture. I've done this before. 
  • I regularly interact with 75 of the same people on a daily basis in New York City. A few I love, a few I hate, but most just fall somewhere in the middle...which is exactly what will happen here. (There are already a few here I know I will love, and the percentage of those people will probably be higher than in regular life, because you don't get to this place without having some major life philosophies in common.)
  • A grand adventure...yes, I will concede to that.  
Fine, I did take a pretty cool picture of the KL Tower as seen through the trees. 

Fine, I did take a pretty cool picture of the KL Tower as seen through the trees. 

These are all things I knew about myself before I showed up on Sunday, but all of these things are major aspects of the Remote Year program. It's natural to convince yourself that you can adapt to all of these things that should either be a positive, or will be trumped by the fact that you're living in exotic places around the world. 

Except I'm not living in an exotic place. I'm still stuck in New York City. 

Kuala Lumpur is literally Asian New York City, and because I've spent the past six months desperately trying to get out of fucking New York City, all of this has put me in the same bullshit energy space. All I did was relocate to a place that triggers the identical emotional scenarios. Everything is the same — skyscrapers, unending noise from construction, honking, traffic, and sirens. Reckless street crossings, massive amounts of people, billboards, trash, beggars, unending opportunities to eat and drink. Even my toxic relationship came with me. There is one person here who looks and acts so much like a person who has effectively defined my New York City experience. I travelled 9,389 miles to get away from this relationship and the ghost of this relationship is still here. 

(To be clear, this relationship is not and never has been romantic. I haven't even talked to this person in weeks, and haven't truly communicated with this person in years. For the sake of all those involved, I won't be divulging names, genders, or specific specifics about the situation. From now on, I'll refer to the person as The Barnacle and to the impostor as Ghost Barnacle.) 

Barnacles permanently attach themselves to hard structures, often to the detriment of the structure itself. 

Barnacles permanently attach themselves to hard structures, often to the detriment of the structure itself. 

Furthermore, every single interaction with a new person thus far basically devolves into: 

What do you do? Why are you here? What are you passionate about? Are you going to the Maldives this weekend? We're going to the Maldives this weekend. We're going to to Malacca next weekend, and the Bantu caves tomorrow. Later tonight we're going to a cocktail bar hidden behind a battered women's shelter, but right now we're going to a very specific Chinese-Malay-Indian fusion restaurant that apparently has the best curry you've ever had. Some local we met at 2am told us we had to go there. There's a Slack channel for it called #curiouscurryseekers.

It's like walking into a day care with 75 boundery-less toddlers, I'm the only one with a shiny new toy and everyone wants to talk about it. BACK OFF. You can all play with the toy, one at a time, over an extended period of time. 

All of this does not mean that I am not grateful, respectful of the other 74 people's personal journeys, or aware of the rare position I am in. It just means that it only took four days for me to realize that my situation is likely not going to resemble the usual Remote Year situation, and I am already exhausted from trying to present it as such. 

A small few here have witnessed my frustration surrounding this whole experience so far, and all have attributed it to Big Life Change Syndrome. What they don't (yet) realize, that everything is exactly the same...and that's the problem. The only difference is that in this New York City, I can't find a fresh vegetable...and right now I'd really love a $16 salad.  

The Changover

I've heard there is a particular kind of beer in Thailand that has a special sort of reputation. Apparently that stuff isn’t particularly well regulated by the government, so one can could have a 6% ABV and the next can has 10%. Your state of mind is a gamble every time, which I imagine isn’t too different from the boggled state of mind I’ve been in the past few months, weeks, days, and hours.  The Thai call it a Changover. 

I've been in a constant state of Changover since about the middle of February, when I found out I was accepted into a program called Remote Year that would send me around the world for a year — Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Argentina. 

Every decision required to get to the point I am right now, which is hanging out in the China Eastern Business Class Lounge of the SFO Airport (that's what years of collecting air miles gets you, folks), has come with a massive, throbbing Changover. 

Navigating the co-op board of a snooty NYC apartment so you can sublet out your apartment even though the building doesn't allow subletters? Five thousand dollar, 40 pages of paperwork Changover. 

Leaving the business you started even it took on a life of its own and went in a direction you never expected? Five year long, still ongoing Changover. 

Finding a job that would allow me to work abroad and have this experience? Part time Changover. 

Leaving your little 12 year old rescue terrier in the hands of the 85 year old woman who became your surrogate grandmother? Heartbreaking. There's not enough Chang to numb that one.

Withdrawing off 15 years of prescription medication because filling prescriptions abroad is a bitch (and 15 years is just way too long?) Therapy-fueled Changover.  

Listening to crying children in the fucking fancy lounge? Give me more Chang with a side of those anxiety meds I'm not supposed to be taking. 

Saying goodbye to 8 years of NYC friendships? Actual hangover Changover. 

Oh, and somewhere in there I participated in something massively stressful that will be nationally televised, much to the amusement of my friends and family. (More on that when I can actually say more on that.) 

Siem Photography, aka Me, took this photo. Don't seal it. Ok, thanks. 

Siem Photography, aka Me, took this photo. Don't seal it. Ok, thanks. 

Anyway, as I sit here in this lounge wondering why I can't create a child-free colony on some uninhabited island, I'm relieved that my Changovers have finally lead to this point. I have no idea what this year will be like, but I decided to go on this trip because there were only two options: stay in New York or leave New York. Staying in New York was not an option. My life there had reached a tipping point where my physical health was measurably declining due to all of the stressors outlined above. 

I imagine this year will be full of Changovers, though hopefully more in the literal sense than the metaphorical. Regardless, I'm happy to have closed the New York chapter of my life. Like a high school boyfriend, it was good while it lasted, but thank god I thought that one through before I committed to it long term. 

So, it’s time to commence a year’s worth of Changovers and Changunders. Up and down, around I go. See you on the other side.