I took him aside and asked him how he did it. I expected him to talk about all the studying and hard work and all that. Instead he said, "Well, I went down and signed up for some classes." He put it in a step so simple that it gave me some hope.
The next day I rode my bike over to Sacramento City College and waited in line for a counseling appointment. When I got to see a counselor, we talked a bit about what I had done in my life so far, and when she heard that I had been a corpsman, she suggested nursing, which was what I was thinking about anyway.
She pulled out the catalog and started making a plan for me. As things were in that semester, the only class I could start with was chemistry. I told her I didn't think I could do chemistry. She told me that I might as well give it a try, and see what happens. I asked, "What happens if I fail?"
I'll never forget her response. She smiled warmly and gave a little laugh. "Darlin' they ain't gonna take you out back and shoot you--you just try again." So I agreed.
I left her office to get in the line to register for classes. As I was standing there, she came out of her office and said that the space shuttle had just exploded. 29 years ago this morning.
Malida and I ate at a thai-laotian restaurant earlier this week that is about 15 minutes from our house. It's not one of our regular places. We tried it a few years back but never went back. The reason we went back this time is because the place we were going to is closed on Mondays.
She really enjoyed the food this time around, and I did too. She commented that the papaya salad tasted like they make it back home. Generally the Thai food here is not the same as back home, and it can vary from region to region even.
She called the place today to make a take-out order. She started out in english, and eventually switched first to Lao, then Thai. She talked for a while, and then I heard her say where she was from. Well, it turns out the guy who owns the restaurant is from the same town. That's why the food tastes like back home.
I went to pick up the food for her and talked to the guy for a while. He taught me a few Lao phrases, then started talking about Beer Lao, which is my favorite beer over there. I didn't know you could get it in the US, but he has it!
It reminded me of my first visit to northern Thailand. I was wandering around down by the Mekong, and came across some guys sitting under a dock drinking Beer Lao. I asked if I could take their picture and they let me, then gave me a glass of beer and let me hang with them for a while as they talked and sang. They offered to take me across to see Laos, but I had to meet up with my group. It was one of my favorite experiences of that trip.