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Weird Warping of Big Holidays During Extended Travel

A gorgeous temple in Laos: Halloween 2009!

A gorgeous temple in Laos: Halloween 2009!

It hit me as I was proctoring Study Hall this past Friday, gazing at the sea of sweet Boston students clad as: Lady Gaga, a bumble bee, a red M&M, and a giant Teletubby.

I suddenly realized I had absolutely no memory of what I did for Halloween, 2009.

I racked my brain. My Vietnam visa ran out at the end of October, 2009, so I was likely in Laos on October 31. But did I dress up?

I clearly remembered that on Halloween of 2007, I dressed as my beloved Amy Winehouse. (The resemblance is uncanny, minus the pesky drug habit and anorexia.)

I also clearly remembered going to work dressed as Amy Winehouse (again) for Halloween 2008… and having a student’s parent show up for an impromptu conference.

I love Laos! Lovely architecture from the capital city.

I love Laos! Lovely architecture from the capital city.

“Er, sorry,” I said to the parent in my best Spanish, “My hair is two feet tall and my eyes are ringed in black because I am dressed as Amy Winehouse. Now let’s talk about your son.” Awkward!

So what the heck WAS I doing on Halloween of 2009? Luckily, this question is very easily answered when one has a blog!

First I used the search box in the upper right-hand corner to seek “Halloween.” No matches. Hmm… strange!

Next, I scrolled to the Archive list at the bottom of the right sidebar. I clicked “October 2009,” and sought the matches for October 31. Cha-ching! The answer was evident: Because I was outside of America, I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT HALLOWEEN in 2009!

Stalking orange-robed monks in Vientiane, Laos, totally unaware it was Halloween.

Stalking orange-robed monks in Vientiane, Laos, totally unaware it was Halloween.

Rather than dressing up, or even being the slightest bit aware that Halloween existed at all, I spent October 31, 2009 in the country of Laos, writing not one, not two, but THREE articles! Check out the random assortment:

October 31, 2009, Article 1: An explanation of a reason it’s SO EASY to travel through Southeast Asia.

October 31, 2009, Article 2: Eating like a beast through the food paradise of Laos’s capital, Vientiane (including a photo of deep-fried bugs!).

October 31, 2009, Article 3: (One of my favorite articles ever.) Sightseeing by stalking a pack of orange-robed monks through Vientiane, Laos.

A lovely fountain in Laos, Halloween 2009

A lovely fountain in Laos, Halloween 2009

Ha! Amazing!

The lesson is clear: When you travel for an extended time outside of your home country, your entire understanding and experience of holidays you’ve taken for granted your entire life becomes warped. It’s a really good thing! Yay for perspective and mixing things up!

So what did I do this year for Halloween, 2010? Well, given that I have 150 students and just collected one essay test and one final term paper, it seemed inadvisable to rock it out too hardcore with a pile of 300 items to grade reminding me that Term 1 grades are due this week. And thus, a teacher friend and I took a brief break to walk around downtown and crack up at the hilarious costumes afoot before turning in early.

Halloween 2008 in Boston: as Amy Winehouse with coworkers at school!

Halloween 2008 in Boston: as Amy Winehouse with coworkers at school!

There were fewer Laotian monks in my life this year than last year, and less Amy Winehouse than in 2008 and 2007, but I felt content and happy.

It’s exciting and good that every year is different!

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