Thailand University Teacher Extraordinaire

The trials and tribulations of a young English teacher

The 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge: It’s All Come to an End

Sadly, because of the looming deadline I’ve set myself for my Master’s degree applications, I’m bringing an end to this cycle of the 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge. I managed to write for five consecutive days for this challenge although I ultimately only published three entries (Goodbye MSN Spaces being the first).

Even though I vowed to publish whatever I came up with every day, I decided that I wasn’t happy sharing something that appeared to be visibly broken and that’s why two entries will forever remain hidden in the ether. That being said, I’m much more comfortable sharing my writing with anyone who’s willing to read it after attempting this challenge. I’ll give this another try in January.

In other news, I love my job at the moment. The recent floods in Bangkok have delayed the start of the second semester of Thai program courses. This means that my schedule for the last six weeks has been unusually light. I had time to spend a week in Kunming, China with my girlfriend, which has brought the smile back to my face.

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The 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge: Day Two

I like to think that I’m a brave and adventurous person. When I was 18, I left home and moved 300 miles to attend university, when it would have been much easier and cheaper to study in my hometown.  I moved to Thailand when I was 23 and started a career in teaching. But there’s one thing that I dread. It leaves an unpleasant feeling in my stomach, and I curse its inevitability. I can’t stand going for a haircut.

As I detest visiting the hairdresser, I like to put it off as long as possible. What begins as a short hairstyle rapidly expands and grows into an untidy afro-like mess which refuses to be tamed by shower or comb. Eventually the day comes when I can no longer ignore stares from colleagues and flattering comments from students. Yesterday was one such day.

The haircut experience at my choice of salon is a thoroughly miserable one. The moment I walk through the door with a smile on my face and a polite greeting, I’m met with silence and stares from the pouting ladies behind a desk. A reluctant flick of the hand indicates that a bored looking colleague will now wash my hair.

Lying uncomfortably, with my head pulled back into the sink, my first thought is usually questioning whether ice has been added to the water. As my head is repeatedly pulled, grabbed and tugged at, while shampoo is applied and rinsed, I silently curse myself for lacking the courage to visit a rival salon. A wayward spray of water running down my back signals that the hair washing is complete.

Next I am led to one of many chairs facing a mirror and then promptly abandoned. Minutes later, a scowling middle aged lady carrying a pair of scissors in her hand ties a sheet around my neck and then abruptly begins chopping at my locks. Fumbling through my wallet, I request that my hair be styled like my university id card. When no reaction is forthcoming from the stylist, I silently begin to question my sanity.

After five minutes of tense and awkward silence, the first words out of the hairdresser’s mouth are that I have damaged hair with a sprinkling of dandruff. This can be mended with serum if I’m willing to pay. It’s going to cost more than four times the price of a standard haircut. No thank you.

My refusal results in an angry expression followed by a swift transition from the nippy pair of scissors in her hand to what the professionals perhaps refer to as the root rippers. An excruciating three minutes of frantic chopping and pulling begin before the hairdresser abruptly departs without a word.

A smiling young woman in her early twenties then appears with a hairdryer. It’s taken half an hour into this ordeal to see a smile. A quick drying and styling follows before I’m sent back to a frosty reception at the front desk. I quickly hand over the 280 baht my haircut has cost, and I flee the salon, happy to escape with my life.

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The 30 Day 30 Minute Challenge: Day One

I haven’t been happy with what I write recently. I struggle to express my feelings and opinions, and the words that eventually spill out onto the page are tepid and uninspiring. I once had great enthusiasm for writing. Somehow over time, that passion has begun to fade. To try to remedy this, I’ve decided to set myself a challenge.

Over the next 30 days, I’m going to sit in front of my computer and write for a minimum of 30 minutes. I’m free to write on any topic. The only restrictions I’m going to set are that I have an absolute maximum of one hour and that I have to publish whatever I end up with on this blog.

I hope that getting back into the habit of writing every day will shake free much of the rust that has settled on the creative region of my brain. I miss the pleasure that writing articles and stories can bring.

Writing is an art rather than a science, so I expect that there will be good days, where I’ll be delighted with the words I write, and bad days, like this one, where each word has to be coaxed from the keyboard. Persistence, I suspect, is going to be everything.

To anyone out there reading this, I’d like to invite you to try attempting your own 30 day 30 minute challenge. Should you accept this invitation, feel free to leave a comment with a link. I would be very interested to read what you write.