this world is wild at heart and weird on top
Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "teverde" journal:
[<< Previous 10 entries]
I'm back in viet nam. It partly feels surreal, but partly just feels like I'm home again... right now I just feel like I'm in a fog. Most things are just as I left them, save for a few places knocked down and highrise condos gone up and probably quite a few more foreigners. I haven't seen all the old parts yet though. I arrived in the dark which is how I always like to remember viet nam: a dark place with green lights shining on the trees. I had forgotten what it's like to be surrounded by such gentleness. like does attract like. gentle people bring out the softness in people and I miss it. my favorite place of contrasts. they're still playing the same internet cafe songs for me too... we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun...
going back to a simpler time and place,
cause I'm starting to feel numb to things,
I used to feel alive.
I see things here and don't feel it. feel maybe 60% of what I see. I used to feel things intensly. Joy and contentment at seeing the bikes swarming the street ahead of me, peace when I'd be on a rooftop or floating on my back staring and praying to the sky, feeling of appreciation for being so aware of what I was experiencing at a certain time, feeling of lonliness and strength and will to get through, feeling of heartache at losing close friends and the impermanence of life, feeling of uplifting melancholy at seeing the people laughing and smiling while sweeping the street. the lone lottery seller or noodle boy. the flower girls. the sweet communication in their eyes. no words necessary.
It seems so distant now. I can recall feeling so intensly, but can't conjure up those same feelings. so distant. I hesitate to think I know what to expect. the impermanence of life.
Current Mood: nostalgic
67 weeks ago|
it's been a while.
I'm sitting listening to my long lost favorite elevator tune from vietnam. I used to hear it at the french chicken place in saigon and my favorite veggie chicken place in hanoi as well as the occasional massage parlor. it's like finding a long lost friend... such a bittersweet melody. uplifting melancholy. apparently it's a french song which is why I had such a hard time locating it on google. it's eluded me for 2 years. I stopped at the union square subway once thinking this guy on a flute was playing it, but it wasn't. l'amour est bleu. love is blue. a 1967 fourth runner up song in the eurovision contest. (I wikipediaed it). it only became a no.1 hit in japan and canada of all places. 1967. 67 weeks since I've updated this blog. huh. and I found it again all thanks to a hazy search on youtube. thank you youtube for bringing us back together again.
Current Mood: good
con cho dang ngay!|
the dog is jumping! happy year o' the dog!
i do remember choice bits of vietnamese.
i think i can successfully say i'm on the oh twelth step of reaculturation though. it's only taken me a few months or so, but i finally feel like i'm kinda in the right place now. it's either the time that's passed or the place, but probably a bit of both. i've only ever paid attention to one star trek episode thus far in life, but my mind has occasionally wandered back to it time and again in the past few months. it was the one where all the crew members lost their memory, so they didn't know where they were and what they were supposed to do, and so had to rely on their intuition. the doctor couldn't remember he was a doctor, but somehow felt inclined to do that work etc... yeah it was star trek, but sounds familiar.
what i've realized i really miss from asia (besides the people;) is urban living and a lack of zoning, and well, you can kinda find a bit of that here. just enough to keep you grounded at least. i buy sliced mango from this jamaican couple on the street at least once a week outside of my gym just for nostalgia sake I think. it reminds me of vietnam. they look poor and sweet and they cut the mango right there in front of you for a 50 cent profit. she always smiles at me and calls me dear and it reminds me for a brief moment of many other things.
and school, hmm. let's just say i'm getting used to all the hollerin' and have been working on my disciplining voice. what i find really sad though is seeing six year olds screaming and running around a room refusing to do anything and yelling things like 'hey, look at that bootie!' and talking about beating each other up. and when i look at some of them, and ride on the subway home looking at some of them, i feel like i can predict pretty well the path their life will likely take and it seems pretty bleak. and you'd think the outlook would be brighter, being they're only 6 years old and all and living in the u.s. but you can already see the pattern that's formed in many. and when their moms come in yelling things like fuck you to the teachers, well you've got to realize what the kids are a product of. i've also been pretty amazed at my ESL kids. well, maybe amazed isn't quite the right word... I went into teaching ESL to help the new immigrants who are fairly new and confused and really need to learn English, but i keep finding out that a lot of my students who are like 8 or older were born in the U.S. and they still don't know english... they're apparenlty this new generation of alingual kids who grow up not knowing or reading any language well. shocking. whole different world. instead of a time out room, there's a crisis intervention team. instead of seeing kids happily going home at dismissal, i see at least one crying and being dragged on the floor by the security guard cause they apparently don't want to go home or something. and there's no art, almost no gym, but instead hours of test prep every day... but then there are the nice ones too i suppose and the times when you actually feel like you're teaching ESL...
con cho dang ngay, con cho dang ngay... jump little dog, jump.
Current Mood: cold
well guess what santa brought janice for christmas this year.... a bunch of little hispanic kids who don't know english, yaaay! just got hired on in the new york city public school system teaching esl grades 3-5 in january. not exactly my prefered age group (i have a strange thing for middle school kids) but i like em, and it seems like a good situation. quite a bizarre interview actually. and much different from that interview i had in cali where all i recall is telling the principal 'oh no, communist countries are actually very safe'. the school is about 70% hispanic and 30% african american, but i felt like i was in latin america as all i heard in the office the whole time i was there was spanish. and there's noone like hispanic women to get things done. much different from that other school that interviewed me and told me i just didn't have the certificates or forms to be 'hireable', these women in the office got on the phone and started bossing everyone around at the central office. pretty entertaining actually. i was a bit nervous listening to the 'budget' telephone conversation though: 'No, you said we had funds for an esl teacher! well you need to transfer the funds from title I into an esl fund then... well if there's not enough money, then take the funds from the special ed department'. or something like that. so i then timidly asked 'um, am i going to get properly paid for this job?' but they assured me i would. although at this point i'm not even sure i'd care. a job... yaaay.
Current Mood: happy
i've been lost in the states.... lost, lost, lost. have been watching the show 'lost' too. (got sucked in.) the theory is that they're in purgatory. interesting. neither here nor there. not sure where they're going but trying to follow their intuition, having strange apparitions.... seeing things and not sure if it's a figment of their imagination from a past life or this life.
perhaps returning to the states after a few years in southeast asia is like purgatory? melodramatic perhaps, but similarities too. between two worlds. a lot of the time for the past few months i've felt like i've just been going through the motions, but lost in my own head. maybe i'm just self-consumed, don't know. maybe i'm getting to the acceptance part of culture shock and starting to get actually motivated about a new phase of life again. maybe i've been mourning ... mourning the loss of something that i needed to move on from cause it was time for a change. someone who lived in france for 10 years then came back has recently told me that part of the process is constantly questioning yourself and wondering if you're doing the right thing... she says she's been back three years and still isn't used to it... someone once told her it's like a door was opened that you can never close.
was browsing discussion forums the other day and came across the topic and this link posted by a fellow lost returnee:http://www.amideast.org/publications/aq/Back_Issues/1994/w94-html/W94Process.htm
(take comfort anyone planning to return...)
and realized it's normal, yay. so comforting actually. now i know why i was crying when i thought i lost my nepalese photos, why i've been so anti-parochial everything, why i get so agitated at store employees when they seem to yell at me 'how are you? can i help you find anything?' and i want to just yell back why are you talking so loudly and making me feel so quiet.
getting better though, finding my way and feeling out what feels right. and taking comfort in the fact that apparently those who adjusted best and were happiest overseas have the most difficult time returning... is it possible to never truly feel at home anywhere again? hmm
Current Mood: contemplative
getting lost in moscow sucks|
never wrote much about this memorable night at the time, perhaps cause was too distressed, but managed to comment on it on royby's blog:
hey, janice and landon reading up on your travels in moscow... we're
experiencing the same shock over here at the fact that people use
crosswalks and cars have been stopping for us! strange... landon
escaped a near robbery in the Red Square while at the same time Janice
was about to break down and cry in the Metro (only Russian written),
having lost landon and Ryan in Red Square. All is well now! Off to
St. Petersburg on the night train
moscow- it brings out the skank in you...
that's my new tourism slogan. first impression of russia: everyone's so skanky here! this city has a real seedy side to it. never been in an underground metro quite like it either- the metro stations are beautiful with stained glass and marble and chandeliers.. and people walking around drinking beer everywhere. it's funny to see open-container freedom in a first world country.
got in yesterday on the trans-sib 3 day train ride... and i must admit the scenery was a bit overrated. prettu much the same forests and towns the whole ride. could've been pennsylvania actually for all we knew... our train car attendant natalia was pretty cool though- i particularly liked how she smiled and vacuumed the train hallway in her black heels and dress, classic.
there's no place like saigon...|
I keep saying I'm not going to be sad my last week here, but it's so hard to enjoy it when I keep thinking of how I'm going to miss it. I don't think I'll ever be so touched by a country or it's people as I have here. I don't think I'll ever click so well with a culture as I have here. How the hell did this happen in Vietnam? It's the sense of community here that I love and am going to miss watching, even if I was never a real part of it. I've had some bad days here and met my share of cold or mean-spirited people, but speaking of the masses I have been just constantly amazed, impressed, and touched by the sincerity of the people and their spirit that's somehow simultaneously lighthearted and deep. For a country that's supposed to be officially athiest, I've never felt so spiritual as I have here. I've never seen such people that on the whole, work so hard, use everything they have, and take advantage of every situation to get ahead. They seem both content with what they have, but not content enough to not constrantly strive for more and to better their own lives and families. The Vietnamese have such a natural, sincere friendliness about them. They live life in the moment. When I meet a new foreign person here, we exchange phone numbers and maybe you'll hear from each other in the next week or two. When you meet a new Vietnamese friend and exchange phone numbers, they call you up in two hours to meet up for coffee... hell why not. Why all the waiting time in life.
Every street and hem and bis have their own community and every city and even the country as a whole seems to have a communal energy. In some ways it seems like an unspoken 'hey, we're all in this life thing together'. Each person fighting their own private battles, but they also seem grateful for life in general. People smile a lot here and they enjoy the little things in life that so many people seem to forget in other parts of the world. I notice an offbeat sense of humor, almost tinged with irony at times, but I notice most that the average person treasures the little pleasures in life. I get the sense that they feel something better lies ahead either in this life or the next, but that they must enjoy what they can from it now. You can get a friendly, shy smile or a tease from most people here. They say what's on their mind. I've rarely met a Vietnamese person with much pretense to them (except the ones in the changing room at the gym.)
My students have said some funnily revealing things to me- about Vietnam that is, in the nearly two years I've been here. The material I teach them is pretty dry and dull, but the conversations have been almost enlightening at times. I remember getting frustrated in class this past semester when realizing that again almost noone could express their thoughts in a coherent paragraph. When I asked them frustrated what they actually learn in their high school Vietnamese classes, they all looked at me surprised and said 'we write poetry and copy marxist theory essays'. Oooh. And yep, they are sometimes the most poetic students I've had. They love units about 'love and commitment' and can analyze wafty philosophical lines pretty intently. We did a unit once about birth order and family and when I asked them to guess what my own birth order was, without thinking they all agreed that I must be the youngest and when I asked why, they said that there was no way I would be half way around the world from my family if I were the oldest... When I told them I was going to America, some of them seemed surprised and one girl innocently blurted out 'my friend went to live in america before and she said it was really boring'. hehe. I told them it's true. Someone else said that they'd heard of little saigon in america and that it's just like Vietnam... They seemed a bit disappointed when I told them yeah, but everyone drives there in cars, no one sits on the sidewalks, and people aren't outside in conical hats gossiping and people watching...
sigh...... I've never felt so alive as I do in this part of the world... but alas, I must go. I want to leave loving this place. Times be a'changing and a few years in asia is about the white girl's limit. Must cash out and move on to keep my own spirit alive. There are definately some things I will not miss (like the screeching of security gates), but I know I won't remember those things very well.
Someday soon I might be clicking my ruby flip-flops though.
Current Mood: hopeful
I don't know if I can quite describe the russian visa experience. Basically you have to fill out 2 forms, 3 if you're a guy, and tell them everything about your life and career and that of your family, and hope that they won't think you're hiding information about russian relatives, shady military experience, or explosives training. I almost think it's for intimidation sake, cause it had both L. and I freaked out a bit thinking we were gonna be denied a visa when neither of us have anything at all in our past, er at least that I know of for L.
Ok, so you fill these forms out in the little box shaped office with square red chairs sitting around the table, very basic. At the front behind a thick glass is a 40ish Russian guy with glasses who sits in a pretty empty little office, except for a really old faded green typewriter. He sits at his desk and methodically places papers together making extra sure the corners line up exactly before he staples them or places a paperclip just so. He doesn't smile or frown, but just looks very intent on having everything just right, in the manner of obsessive compulsive disorder, or perhaps borderline autism. So we submitted our forms through the glass and he looked up and motioned with a raised finger that we were to wait. Ok. So we waited, and waited, while watching him do his little paper lining up and stapling thing. Then he placed those papers behind him in a perfect line, all corners matched up, and began the tedious process of checking us out. I have never seen someone look through my passport so thoroughly before. He examined every stamp and then suspiciously asked me how to pronounce my last name and if I had any relatives in Russia. Those were the only questions. He doesn't make any expression throughout the whole process. Then he lines up the papers again, says 'wait', and takes our visa invitations and methodically opens and closes the door in his little office, and then opens and closes the door to the waiting room. He tells us to 'sit' and opens and closes the door to go outside. He comes in about 5 minutes later, after calling russia or something, and does the whole door opening/closing thing again in OCD manner, and then takes the little day calendar, (we've seen this part before) and stares really hard at it while he does some strange counting calculation with his fingers counting off days or something. He takes out some archaic looking little book, makes some bizarre calcuation, and then announces that it will be $38. Don't know how he came up with that price, but ok, sounds alright. The whole time I was in that office, I just kept wondering how Russia and their system became the model system for so many other pro-communist countries in the world? So much tediousness and papers and procedures for something that seems so relatively easy in other places. How did people look at that and think, ah, now that's the way to live?
On picking up my visa and seeing how perfectly lined up the sticker was on the page, it occurred to me that perhaps this is the only duty this guy has at the embassy- they're only open 6 hours a week for visas afterall. Maybe he just really takes pride in what he does and wants to make sure it's all done right, hmm.
Current Mood: blank
[<< Previous 10 entries]