Thinking about writing is not writing, but I’ve doing a lot of that lately; writing, and thinking about writing. About every two years, on the dot, I get into a writing frenzy and write and write and write. And then it stops, like a frozen pipe. Usually the more I write the more I want to write and sometimes you have to prime the pump. My last big really unfulfilled goal, dream, idea, place in my life that I have yet to visit is to be an actual published writer. I have put efforts into this before, several times but have always got distracted or given up, perhaps too soon before the miracle. Or perhaps there is no miracle. Or perhaps someone in my family will “discover” my journals fifty years from now. Or perhaps I will be one of those many writers who write and write, and are only read by a few friends and family. Despite all these maybes, I have enough material now for about three books, and all I need to decide is how much energy/time I want to put into putting them together. No decision on this yet.
Smiling…for a very long time I did not have a lot to make me smile, and I lost the use of my smile. In the past few years, I have had to relearn the art of smiling. I have, I have been told and I can see myself in the mirror, a wonderful smile. It transforms my entire face when I smile, and I become a nice old lady, someone you probably would even like to know or help out. I have practiced this smiling throughout my trip, and have seen what a difference a smile can make in the oddest, most difficult situations. Smiling at a very tired, very irritated immigration official, at a hotel clerk who doesn’t understand a word I am saying, at a harried taxi driver who doesn’t want to admit he is lost, at Thai hookers who are afraid to look at foreign women and see only judgment in their eyes, at the massage workers having a Christmas party when I asked to take a picture of all their laughing faces. A smile is a gold coin dropped in the toll booth on the bridge of life (oh god I can’t believe I wrote that—but I’ll keep it for now because it has a Tom Waits meets Nicholas Sparks ring to it). When I smile I feel all the smiles around me, which is not to say I’m always in a smiley-face state of being; the little duel-faced being that I am, I can frown as well as Robert DeNiro, but I like to believe I am slowly riding the bus that might take me there.
This is when you know you are in some kind of groove. I went to my Wifi place this morning after breakfast. A guy comes into the tour/motorcycle rental/laundry/computer place and asks about extending his visa for a few days. I could tell he was just trying to see if he could get these ladies to do it for him, so they acted like they didn’t know anything. When he left I followed him out and told him I had the same question as my visa expires the 15th and I don’t fly out until the 20th. I was told I could just pay a fine at airport on my way to Hong Kong, but he told me if you get a mean officer, they can make life miserable. He said I could go into Phuket to Immigration and get visa extended. My first thought was to put it off because it was already after noon, and I had no idea how long it would take and that is not what I had planned for the day, but I had some feeling that I should just go. So I went back to my cottage and dressed up a bit, real shoes and all. When I asked the ladies at the shop where Immigration Office was they told me any taxi could take me there. When I walked out on the street there was a guy I’d met at Casa Brazil who drove cab and he was willing to take me there and back (for a price of course). We had a lovely ride talking about music and Hawaii and his children and life in Phuket. I got to Immigration and the place was packed with people, but when I walked in a nice German lady in line told me to go to the Information Desk, where this nice older Australian man explained exactly what I needed to do. Fill out a form, go downstairs and take a picture, get copies of my passport, then come back and voila! A five day extension until my plane leaves. Of course, the lady told me I didn’t need copies of my passport when I did, so I had to make two trips up and down the offices and it took about 2 ½ hours because it was so crowded, but everyone in the office was really friendly and even laughing. How many civil service offices have you been to lately where the people were laughing? It cost 1900 baht (about $60.00), and the cab was another 1000 baht, which I knew was expensive but was worth it getting there and back so easily. Plus he said he’ll give me a deal on the ride to the airport. So, visa extended, and I don’t have to worry about it all the way to my flight on the 20th while I in Pattaya. I’m sure there are better, more economical ways to do things here, but I am learning on my own and that’s how I like to roll.