This is a collection of 10 sketch books/journals I made while studying in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 2001-2002
It was June 2001, I was 17 years old, a couple weeks after graduating from the Milwaukee High School of the Arts I set off to northern Thailand to study culture, art, life and so much more. A place that would forever change my life and a place that will forever be in my heart.
I collected everything I found while living in Chiang Mai(mostly things I could tape, glue, stick into my sketchbooks). Garbage on the road was the most beautiful thing to me because it was not from America, The USA. At this point in my life I wanted to be as far away from ANYTHING that was The USA. I loved everything that was NOT the usa.
Thailand has the greatest PENS and paper products. If you love paper and pens like I do, it was heaven every single day for pen and paper lovers,which could be one reason I made 10 sketchbooks over one year living there. These are 2 pages of some of my study books. I was taught the Thai language but I never did get the reading and writing of Thai language. I tried, but I think I was distracted by the beautiful curves and circles of the Thai alphabet and her letters.
Living in Northern Thailand surrounded by mountains and forests the “Hill Tribe” culture was infused in everything, I fell in LOVE with the Tribal cultures and people instantly. In the home I stayed in, they had a maid from Myanmar, her name was P’ Jai, she was from a tribe from Myanmar(Burma) I do not remember her Tribe write now, I will have to check one of my journals for the name. I spent a lot of time with P’ Jai and her first language was not Thai either, so I found we could relate to many things in our new home. On this page is a postcard cut up of a Woman from a Hill Tribe and next to her is a sketch of my host cousin, Owen.
Living abroad at a young age forced me to self reflect constantly. I was able to see the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful in all things. Studying and practicing Vipassana Meditation helped me see myself and reflect.
I studied at Kawila Wittayalai School in Chiang Mai, just outside the downtown city. It was a military school, Buddhist, and I was the only big European looking person at the school, I stuck out like an albino earwig. It was tough. And taught me a lot. One day a group of white people came marching into the school grounds in tie-dyed t-shirts, I was so excited to see big white people, I was dying to have a deep conversation to ANYONE. I approached them with smiles and excited, the first thing they ask me is, “are you a christian?”, I said No, why would I be in Thailand a 95% Buddhist practicing country.
October 1st, 2001/2545
I was 17 years old when I moved to northern Thailand for one year (2001-2002). I went into the monastery for one month as an ordained Lay Buddhist Nun. I meditated for 31 days straight. Everyday beginning at 4am. 2 hours of meditation in my room. Then breakfast, after a 5 minute chant acknowledging our food and breath, and chewing and swallowing. Wash dishes. Meditate for about 5 hours, either walking or sitting. Theravada meditation. Enlightened meditation. Then our last meal was lunch at noon. Then visit with the Abbot of the monastery where he would laugh and laugh at your pain followed by pure insight and guidance and support on your road to enlightenment. Then meditation until bed time. Then do it all over again. At the end of the month, the Abbot lets you know if you are ready for what they called Determination, where you stay up for 3 days, no food, no leaving the room, no changing clothes, no talking, to bathing ONLY Meditation. I actually did this and ended up staying up for a fourth night. Only I was full of so much insight, high off of no sleep and touched by a nonmaterial awakening to enjoy LIFE, it’s suffering and its joy. I had planned on entering a monastery when I decided to go to Thailand. I even shaved off all my hair in preparation. But when the US decided to invade Afghanistan, that is when I decided to enter the monastery.