Tagged Bob

Cooperative Girlfriend

Bob likes to remind me of how cooperative I used to be when we first started dating. He claims it’s a mystery to all men why the sweet, agreeable woman they start out with changes over time to…well…someone less sweet and agreeable.

I don’t disagree I am less cooperative, but I disagree it is a mystery. I think all relationships evolve in stages and ours has been no different.

 

 

 

It wasn’t long before things went awry.

 

 

The truth is that Cooperative Girlfriend is doomed. She exists only in the beginning of a relationship because it is the only time there is no evidence to suggest Infallible Boyfriend could ever be wrong or limited in his ability to read her mind.

As time goes on, evidence builds. Infallible Boyfriend develops a track record of being Human.

Cooperative Girlfriend becomes Doubtful Girlfriend.

 

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Soon, the evidence can no longer be ignored.

Doubtful Girlfriend becomes Skeptical Girlfriend. At this stage, she cannot tell the difference between Infallible Boyfriend and Human Boyfriend. Therefore, everything must be questioned.

 

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With time and experience, Skeptical Girlfriend becomes Pragmatic Girlfriend and deals with reality. She accepts that her boyfriend is Human, can’t read her mind and doesn’t have perfect knowledge of all earthly matters. She adjusts her expectations and takes responsibility for her own happiness.

 

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Everyone misses Cooperative Girlfriend, especially Bob.

I tell him he’ll be happier without her, that a more reality based relationship will be healthier for both of us.

It’s a hard sell, but in time, I hope he’ll forget all about her and go on to be very happy with Pragmatic Girlfriend.

 

 

 

 

Cambodia Travel Journal: Part 1 of 4

I recently returned from Cambodia where Bob has been involved with philanthropic projects for over 10 years. In addition to wanting to see his work there, I was curious about life in southeast Asia and what better time to head for the tropics than when it’s February in Chicago?

Of course, getting out of Chicago in February was easier said than done.

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So he did, and after a minor delay, the plane took off. 24+ hours later (with Bob having joined me when I changed planes in Seoul), we arrived in Phnom Penh in the middle of a dark and balmy night.

I woke up the next morning, eager for Bob to show me around the city. We hired a tuk-tuk and set out.

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This was my introduction to the chaos that is traffic all over Cambodia. Traffic lights are rare and cars, trucks, motos (motorcycles), tuk-tuks, bicycles and pedestrians just get on the road and go. There is a wide range of acceptable road behavior and if you navigate in the customary way, you seem to do okay.

A pedestrian’s lot is dicier. There are sidewalks, but they are not for pedestrians.

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Pedestrians are forced into the street to walk alongside traffic. Crossing the street is a more terrifying leap of faith.

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Eventually you get the hang of it, but you are constantly aware of the risk.

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Like all the other new aspects of this culture, I thought I was starting to adjust.

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Cambodia Travel Journal: Part 2 of 4

After a couple of days in Phnom Penh visiting hospitals, NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations) and doing a little touring, it was time to meet up with Rith, Bob’s interpreter and point man in Cambodia and head out to the villages. Bob provides moto rides to the health center for sick villagers in three villages in Kampong Thom province. Our plan was to visit the villages over two days with an overnight stay in Kampong Thom city.

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I quickly booked “Sambor Village, #1 of 4 hotels in Kampong Thom!” When the best hotel in town is $55 per night, there is no sense confirming your worst suspicions by reading the negative reviews. I was already concerned about bugs of the tropical variety and was determined not to go “looking for trouble.”

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Bob and I regrouped in the parking lot and started to walk the line of vendors. I understand that bugs are part of the diet in many cultures and have seen street vendors selling them around the world. This lineup, however, seemed gratuitous. The bugs were revolting and the tourists squealing and sampling the things felt like being forced to watch a rerun of “Fear Factor”.

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Part 2 Row 4Part 2 Row 5Off we went to Lvea Chum. The villagers gather for a meeting whenever Bob visits. Through Rith, Bob asks how the moto drivers are doing, how the health of the village is and other questions about life in the village.

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Part 2 Row 7The people love the moto drivers, men who live in the village and whom they elect to the job of being on demand to take them to the health center. They are very grateful to Bob for this program. In addition to sparing a sick villager a several mile walk to seek treatment, the easier access allows people to get help before their conditions worsen. Pregnant women go for regular prenatal check-ups and more babies are born at facilities where they can get immediate attention if they are struggling.

The meeting ended with K-Ron, the village chief, thanking Bob and the villagers applauding. Afterwards, K-Ron invited us to check out his crops and the irrigation pond Bob donated in a field several kilometers away.

The moto drivers were ready.

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I could feel how careful the moto driver was being. He avoided potholes and sought out the smoothest path. He didn’t speed. Riding with him down the dusty, orange village road was a joy. And, best of all, he didn’t say a word.

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Cambodia Travel Journal: Part 3 of 4

I was silent on our ride back to the hotel. Bob went for a swim while I was intensely focused on reading the digital version of the Chicago Tribune on my tablet.

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In that moment, I realized I had what you’d call “culture shock”. I was still so preoccupied with processing the previous days’ experiences that my ability to absorb new ones was shrinking. It made sense that I was growing irritated with people talking. I didn’t want any more input.

Pie Chart of Preoccupation by Day:

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The Trib was easy and familiar and demanded nothing of my diminished coping reserves.

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The Dead Chicken

Bob and I love to walk the neighborhoods of Chicago.

Over the last two years, we’ve enjoyed long walks through 35 of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. Each is unique and comes with its own set of fascinating sights.

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Bob and I take turns planning our walks.

Sometimes I organize our excursions:

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And sometimes Bob chooses our next adventures:

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We always learn something new about the history, culture and people of our city. We frequently come across peculiar things we can’t explain, but we always have fun trying.

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Perhaps the strangest thing we’ve seen on any of our walks was a dead chicken. We were walking in the Avondale neighborhood along the Chicago River on a sidewalk bordering some nice condos.

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It seemed odd to see people going about their lives, oblivious to the dead chicken in their midst.

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We moved on and finished our walk, but the dead chicken left an impression. At first, it was a passing reference.

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But after a while, we used it primarily as a geographical reference.

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It’s not that I don’t understand the city street grid system, but having a memorable point of reference just makes more sense to me. Eventually, the dead chicken became the State and Madison of an alternate way of describing city locations.

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Bob and I recently started our third year of walking and exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods. We look forward to seeing more special and interesting sights, but doubt any will ever replace the dead chicken.