It's been a little while since I've last written; I've been trying to go offline and spend some good time with myself and with other people instead of getting on the hamster wheel of writing anxiously. Good writing needs to come from a wellspring, and it's been time for me to disconnect and actually live for a while.

So I spent the week before Christmas in the Philippines with my Ama (grandmother), being stuffed with food and concern - and there I wrote a lot, because I had no other outlet. I spent my first night out of the Philippines decompressing with my brother Jason in Thailand; it felt glorious to be outside! at night! on a street! in a random bar! that we had just decided to walk into! without anyone hanging over our head or any deadline to get back, and I slowly began to breathe again.

Our parents arrived shortly thereafter and we spent the rest of Christmas week in Chiang Mai, with Jason's friend Purin (from Stanford) and his family showing us around. Purin's dad is a Thai art/culture professor at the local university, so we got what is possibly the best tour of Thai temples ever given to a random Chinese tourist family in Chiang Mai.

I may or may not someday write more about this week; the first part was rough, but after some long discussions, the last few days were good time getting to know my family again, and vice versa. It's a new dynamic for all four of us to figure out, now that Jason and I are both adults, but I am surprised at the grace with which everyone is handling the tumult. It's awkward and uncomfortable, and we do not handle it with especially notable poise, but things have been more flexible and understanding than... I was about to say "than I expected" here, but perhaps "than I feared" would be more accurate. For someone who makes her living working with communities, I am surprisingly bad at and afraid of interacting with people - colleagues are all fine, but try to get much closer and things get hard. Practice. Practice.

Now I'm in Wunstorf visiting Sebastian, working from here until we fly to Doha. Germany is much, much colder than Thailand and the Philippines (unsurprisingly), and I have been highly appreciative of insulation, sweaters, and hot tea since landing. It has been wonderful, and I have been introduced to the... ahem... "punctual efficiency" of the German train system. Or lack thereof. The only downside has been the development of a cold and cough, which instinctively makes me to crave ginger. Boiled. Hot. In sugar water. And then I thought: wait, Coke here is made with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup. And Coke was originally a cough medicine. I can make salabat with that instead, and it will be all sorts of tastiness and nom. Perhaps I shall do that later tonight.

This is not a particularly good bit of writing - I'm mostly typing things out through my fingers to clear my brain, and shall spend the next 15 minutes on a personal inbox zero, and then the next 15 on a work inbox zero, because I've been frittering my time away there for too long (there is no way I can keep up with all my email like I want to; I just need to cut my standards and/or rework how I'm actually dealing with my inbox). Better writing later, possibly. It's been a good bit of time and there are things I'd like to write - it's mostly a matter of whether I'll let myself write them, I think. We'll see.