What rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born.
W.B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"
In his poem, Yeats was contrasting the post-World War I malaise with what could be seen of the future. Rather than a peaceful Jesus returned to rescue humanity, he imagined the Egyptian sphinx rising up after "twenty centuries of stony sleep" and moving ungracefully into the world. Instead of a utopian vision of future bliss, this image is distinctly dystopian. Given the history of the late 20th and early 21st century, I have to admit Yeats was a prophet.
After accidentally stumbling across my photo on a student's Facebook page, I stood on the scale we hide under our bed to discover that I now weigh 86 kilos (nearly 190 pounds), up at least 3 kilos from the last time I'd checked. Of course it's all in my gut which gravity has now encouraged to droop below my belt. It's painful to realize one has become the worst cliché of a fat old farang in Thailand. I'd been considering getting suspenders (braces for your Brits) to hold up my pants which might disguise the distinction between girth and waist. But I've not actually seen anyone wearing them over here and a shopping expedition turned up none at all. A style change, however, would not erase the fact that I'm growing obese day by day.
It may seem a stretch to pair concern about my weight gain with a siege of Bangkok bent on demolishing democracy in Thailand, but it's where my mind is at these days. Armageddon is taking a long time. When not preparing for class, teaching or reading my students' homework, I sit on the couch glued to my laptop, perusing twitter and the blogs and posts collected for me by my Feedly account. Occasionally I turn away from the news tweets and Facebook comments to watch a film or TV show I've downloaded ("True Detective" is my new favorite). And, until a couple of days ago, I'd snack on Oreos, ice cream, popsicles, popcorn, and anything else I could stuff in my mouth to make the uncertainty of the future go away. Although I'm not really worried about my safety, I am concerned about what will happen next in Bangkok that might require some adjustments in our life here.